Senior Belgian Socialist MEP Marie Arena, who previously served as the chairwoman of the Human Rights Subcommittee of the European Parliament (DROI), has resigned from her role after she was implicated in the Qatargate scandal.
The MEP resigned from her position on Wednesday, January 13th, after it was revealed that she had failed to declare that she had accepted free flights and a stay in an upscale hotel from the Qatari regime, which at present is at the heart of seemingly ever-widening corruption scandal that has shaken the European Union to its core, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Arena stated that she was stepping down from her position in order not to tarnish her image and the work being carried out by the European Parliament’s Human Rights Subcommittee (DROI), according to a report from Politico Europe. An EU official stated that European Parliament President Roberta Metzola has been informed of Arena’s resignation.
“I proclaim loud and clear that I am not implicated in any way in this affair,” the Belgian MEP wrote in a statement, rejecting accusations that she was involved in the Qatargate scandal.
“But in light of the political and media attacks from the past few weeks that damage not only my image but also all of the work done in the heart of the DROI subcommittee, I have decided to resign from the post of president,” she added.
Presently, the subcommittee faces allegations of corruption and money laundering, with three of the four suspects currently being held on charges of having links to the parliamentary committee. Arena, however, is not one of the suspects at the moment.
Arena noted that Belgian investigators have not raided her home or offices as a part of their wide-scale probe into corruption and bribery in the EU Parliament, and added that her parliamentary immunity had yet to be lifted, something that would have to occur for official criminal proceedings to be initiated.
Per European Union rules and regulations, members of parliament are required to inform a special transparency register if they receive special gifts. For failing to do so, which is a misdemeanor, Arena could face a fine of nearly €10,000. The Belgian MEP has blamed her failure to file the necessary paperwork on her assistant.