EPPO seized thousands in assets from Lega MEP suspected of fraud
The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) seized over €170,000 in assets from Lega/ID MEP Stefania Zambelli and four of her assistants on suspicion of fraud.
The investigation by the EPPO concerns the salaries of the four parliamentary assistants hired in Italy by Zambelli who they suspect did not perform their job roles, and that this was falsely documented to the European Parliament.
According to a statement by the EPPO, the four assistants also allegedly falsified their qualifications by declaring degrees and professional skills they did not possess. Zambelli is also allegedly a “close relative” of at least one of the four assistants and is suspected of directly benefiting from the assistants’ income.
“Regarding the facts that led to the execution of the preventive seizure against me, I would like to clarify that neither I nor my assistants have committed any wrongdoing”, Zambelli wrote on social media.
“Our work has always been marked by the utmost loyalty and transparency towards the institutions and the community,” she added.
Zambelli said that the investigation against her was initiated on the recommendation of a former staff member who had already reported her to the European Parliament in 2019 with the same arguments.
“In that circumstance, for the same facts, this assistant was at the outcome of the judgment dismissed for cause, according to the indications received from the EP officials themselves, while no action was taken against me,” the Lega MEP explained, declaring herself available to clarify the facts to the judicial authorities.
At the time of the publication of this article, the ID group in the European Parliament, of which Lega is a member, told Euractiv Italy that they would comment on the matter as soon as possible.
The seizure of €170,000, including current accounts and luxury cars, was made on Thursday by Italian finance guards and corresponds to the investigators’ estimated damages.
Marco Pacini, an ultra of Milan (football team) and who is in a relationship with Zambelli’s daughter, is also part of the investigation and appears to be part of the MEP’s staff.
(Federica Pascale | EURACTIV.it)