The recent ‘Qatargate’ scandal in the European Parliament, which has seen MEPs & at least one former former MEP languishing in Belgian jail cells, has re-opened another serious issue – one that is institutionalised in Brussels – that of the “fake NGO”.
The fake NGO is becoming a major problem in Brussels. Typically, such a body would purport to represent human rights interests: it is always going to be difficult for a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), for example, to say “no” to an approach by a human rights NGO – but easy for NGO to use the cover to seek to then further the political and ecumenic interests of their true backer.
Qatargate drew great attention in Brussels to the activities of one former Socialist MEP (its interesting to note how often socialists pop up in fraud scandals) one Pier Antonio Panzeri, who sat in the European Parliament from 2004-2019.
Not so long before leaving office, Panzeri was photographed in the European Parliament alongside convicted fraudster Mukhtar Ablyazov and one Lyudmila Kozlovska, President of the “human rights NGO” Open Dialogue Foundation, (ODF) which has widely been discredited for being little more than a mouthpiece for Ablyazov and other members of what can best be described as his “crime syndicate”.
Perhaps this photograph shows us the moment when Panzeri got ideas of his own – the Qatargate scandal, which allegedly involved MEPs and others taking bribes from the government of Qatar, relied to a significant degree on the cover of Panzeri’s one (possibly two,) NGOs.
It should be pointed out at this point that Panzeri has admitted to his guilt -— including on bribes he says he made – in return for a reduced sentence.
Certainly Panzeri also has been connected to Mukhtar Ablyazov by the UK press: Ablyazov has outstanding jail time to serve in the UK in connection with his criminal activities).
“When the police raided the home of the former socialist MEP and lawyer Pier Antonio Panzeri and found €500,000 in cash as part of the most serious corruption case in the European Parliament in decades, nobody noticed one of his clients was an oligarch who is the subject of the biggest civil fraud case in British legal history.” The Spectator, 14 January 2023.
Ablyazov has denied any connection with Panzeri suggesting that he himself should sue The Spectator, but unfortunately he claims he lacks the funds.
In 2016, it has been reported, Panzeri had “pushed through” what was to become a “motion for a resolution” in the European Parliament which, although in itself has no legislative value, is a valuable tactic to raise an individual’s interests at high level. Motions are often deliberately misrepresented by those involved in order to give the impression of legislative value, (it is easy to fool national press in this regard, as they generally seek easy stories where the EU is concerned) and so are therefore a valuable tool, certainly worthy of investment by, for example, an international fugitive looking for political asylum.
A recent report, published in Brussels, has taken the step of naming 18 former and current MEPs providing “evidence” of “collusion involving Members of the European Parliament and European Politicians.”
Many of the MEPs named in the report are known well to EU Today. Most are assiduous, hard working honest politicians. A small number are not. The names of the MEPs concerned can be found in pages 4-6 of the report.
The evidence presented in the report says not so much about the MEPs themselves, but speaks volumes as to how the European Parliament has allowed itself to be infiltrated by those with the resources to hijack the process.
For example, in November 2020 eight MEPs tabled a written question to the European Commission concerning a highly dubious political party in Kazakhstan stating that: ”at least 177,000 ‘Koshe Partiyasy’ supporters are at risk of prosecution.” Koshe Partiyasy is an unregistered party which appears sympathetic to Ablyazov (who also has his own party – ‘Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan,) and is occasionally mentioned by Open Dialogue Foundation in its coverage of Kazakh politics: in reality the membership of Koshe Partiyasy would likely be best described as “four men and a dog.”
Spanish MEP Sanchez Amor is one MEP of particular interest: he appears to have written endless letters in support of Ablyazov and others. He has also been a supporter of convicted Russian fraudster Nail Malyutin, who, somewhat unsurprisingly, is himself another convicted criminal whose cause is championed by ODF.
ODF has itself been accused of working with Russian security services and of receiving funding from Moscow: Luke Coffey, Former Director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy, writing for The Heritage Foundation (Aug. 5th, 2019) had this to say: “the Brussels-based Open Dialogue Foundation was accused of working with Russian security services and of receiving funding from Moscow to spread misinformation in countries that opposed the Kremlin’s policies.
“The Kremlin link was dismissed by the foundation, but considering its past support for dubious individuals (for example, convicted fraudster Mukhtar Ablyazov and Uzbek-born businessman Nail Malyutin, who is currently in prison and who has close links to organized crime), it’s not surprising that people question its wider motives.”
It is worth mentioning in this context that Bartosz Kramek, board member of ODF and husband of the NGO’s president, Lyudmyla Kozlovska, has himself been accused of money laundering in the UK in 2019, and in Poland in 2021. Most of ODF’s more prominent clients appear to have been accused and convicted of money laundering at some point. Most appear, to have been directly involved with Mukhtar Ablyazov or indeed, in at least one case, to have married into his family.
Although, in the wake of Qatargate it has recently established a “Special Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation,” the European Parliament moves very slowly.
And does anybody really believe that those Chinese and Russian journalists who have been for many years sitting in on European Parliamentary Committee meetings on matters as important as economic policy, and security and defence are really “journalists?