Kathimerini Greece Newsroom
by Alexia Kalaitzi
Our online appointment was scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Sunday. Louis Collard is a reporter for the Belgian newspaper Le Soir and one of three reporters who broke the story of QatarGate, one of the biggest corruption and illegal money scandals in recent years.
"Investigators believe Qatar is offering money to high-ranking members of the European Parliament, and it is this money that was discovered in large quantities on Friday..."
His time is valuable to him. Along with the barrage of interview requests from media around the world, he continues to work tirelessly on the case he uncovered on Friday, causing an earthquake in the foundations of the European Parliament.
According to him, it all started in mid-September when he and his colleagues from Le Soir and Knack magazine received a tip about a case being investigated by the authorities involving the European Parliament. "Since then, we began our journalistic investigation, which resulted in the first revelation on Friday, in tandem with the massive police operation that began in the city of Brussels." The journalistic investigation, he explained, lasted a few weeks, but the police investigation, which began in mid-July, lasted several months.
Our conversation is entirely in French. I ask him what the circle of money is based on what he knows so far.
"Investigators believe Qatar is offering money to high-ranking members of the European Parliament, and it is this money that was discovered in large quantities on Friday, first in the home of the former Italian MEP, Pierre Antonio Pancheri, and later in the day, in the home of one of the European Parliament's vice-presidents, the Greek woman Eva Kaili, in whose home a large amount of money was also discovered. We don't know how much [as far as Ms. Kaili is concerned], but we're definitely talking hundreds of thousands of euros," he says.
When asked if he has any information that another Greek is allegedly involved in the case, Kolar says that, so far, he is only aware of Ms. Kaili's father. "The investigators observed Ms. Kaili's father exiting the Sofitel hotel, which was very close to their apartment, with a suitcase containing money, according to our information.
The journalist anticipates further developments in the near future. "I believe this is only the beginning," he says. According to our conversation, he has rarely come across a similar case involving such large amounts of illegal money.
He admits that one of the most difficult aspects of this major investigation has been maintaining the confidentiality of its sources: "When discussing such sensitive issues with colleagues, it is a challenge to avoid in any case the interception of conversations or information obtained."