ATHENS — Greece’s governing center-right New Democracy party has suspended one of its European Parliament members from the party, pending the outcome of an investigation by European authorities into the payment of an assistant.
New Democracy said in an announcement Friday that the suspension was ordered by party leader and prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. It said that while the suspension is in place, Maria Spyraki will not be a parliamentary candidate for the party in the next general elections, which are to be held in the first half of next year.
On Thursday, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office requested the lifting of immunity of Spyraki, as well as one of the European Parliament’s former vice presidents, Greece’s Eva Kaili.
“Based on an investigative report received from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), there is a suspicion of fraud detrimental to the EU budget, in relation to the management of the parliamentary allowance, and in particular concerning the remuneration of Accredited Parliamentary Assistants,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
Kaili, of Greece’s socialist PASOK party, is one of four people charged in Belgium with corruption, participation in a criminal group and money laundering in a corruption scandal in which Qatar is suspected of having tried to buy political influence with cash and gifts. She has been arrested and is in custody pending a Dec. 22 hearing in Brussels.
Her partner Francesco Giorgi, who is a parliamentary adviser, has also been arrested and charged. European lawmakers terminated Kaili’s term in office this week.
The investigation against Spyraki is not related to the Qatar scandal.
In a statement to Greek media Thursday, Spyraki said she was “happy to accept” the request for her immunity to be lifted “in order to make clear that I don’t have a single euro difference with the European Parliament.”
She said the issue concerned the allowance of a former colleague who had faced serious personal issues and had been absent from some European Parliament meetings.
“I have nothing to do with Qatargate, I have nothing to do with any other case,” she said.