The activity of former MEP Antonio Panzeri, the mastermind of the alleged bribery network in the European Parliament plotted by Qatar and Morocco to influence the decisions of the European Parliament, is causing great discomfort in the Italian Democratic Party (PD), a formation that It is also in the process of being refounded after the resignation of Enrico Letta to lead the social democrats of this country.

The scandal involves so many Italians that the local press is already talking about “The Italian Job”. Another important member is Francesco Giorgi, parliamentary adviser – he was Panzeri’s – and partner of MEP Eva Kaili, confessed “transporter” of the money that Panzeri used to buy positions favorable to Qatar and Morocco, who is also in pretrial detention. In addition, Luca Visentini, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, was arrested but later released. Then there is the director of an obscure NGO, No Peace Without Justice, Niccolò Figa-Talamanca, and Andrea Cozzolino, also from the PD, whose current assistant is Giorgi and who has self-suspended until the matter is clarified. The PD has been forced to issue a statement where they promise that they will become a civil party in the judicial process and that they will be “inflexible” with the exponents involved. “What is certain is that all parliamentary acts show that any attempts to influence decisions and votes have been useless, since positions and votes have been rigid in condemning Qatar on important issues, particularly on rights humans and workers”, reads the note after the criticism of the Italian right against the training.

In Italy, few remembered Panzeri until the storm. Elected three times as a member of the European Parliament, in 2017 he joined Articolo 1, a small party born from one of the PD splits together with Massimo D’Alema, with whom he was close. Born in 1955 in Lombardy, he was forged in trade unionism, leading an organization of workers’ associations between 1995 and 2003, and is remembered as an excellent negotiator and a discreet man. In 2004 he was elected for the first time as a member of the European Parliament under the umbrella of El Olivo de Romano Prodi –with 105,000 votes–, and repeated in two other legislatures, until 2019.

At first he dealt with what he knew best as vice president of the Labor commission, but in 2009 he already began to develop an important network of contacts with the Maghreb from the Foreign Commission. In 2019 he founded his own NGO, Fight Impunity, of which Giorgi is also a part, which is under scrutiny by the judicial authorities because it was apparently used as a financial vehicle.

Both the wife, Maria Colleoni, and the daughter, Silvia Panzeri, of the former MEP are under house arrest in Italy, accused of knowing all their businesses and of being accomplices in “transporting gifts”, and awaiting a trial that will begin on December 19 after finding 17,000 euros in cash at his home. The Italian justice has given free rein to his extradition. Colleoni herself advised her husband not to spend 100,000 euros on Christmas holidays, “like last year”, because he was “too expensive”.