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Corruption in the EP: L’Humanité newspaper publishes an investigation into “Marocgate”

The French newspaper L’Humanité has published an investigation on the “Marocgate”, a spiralling corruption scandal within the European Parliament (EP), focusing on “the influence policy that Rabat deploys in the heart of the European institutions” with a modus operandi based on bribing MEPs in exchange for their “alignment” with the interests of the Makhzen regime.

The investigation published under the title “From Brussels to Paris, the Moroccan king’s friends”, in the Friday 6, Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 January edition, looks behind the scenes of what is already considered one of the biggest corruption scandals to have shaken the European institutions.

The newspaper, which is in the second part of its investigation into “Marocgate”, focused on the case of French personalities described as ” special targets of the Moroccan state’s lobbying”.

As revealed by several media and MEPs, the author of the article, Rosa Moussaoui, also underlines that the former Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri would have been “linked for a long time” to the Moroccan secret services through Abderrahim Atmoun, current Moroccan ambassador to Poland, presented in the hearings of the Belgian investigators as a “purveyor of gifts in return for the alignment of certain elected officials with the positions defended by Morocco, in particular on the Western Sahara issue”.

In this regard, she raised the question of the probable involvement of French elected officials in Brussels who were in turn offered gifts.The newspaper points out that the former French Green MEP José Bové is now the target of a defamation complaint filed in France by the former Moroccan Minister of Agriculture, now head of government, Aziz Akhannouch.

The former MEP, contacted by the French newspaper, says that in 2015 he declined -Moroccan- “proposals” to “arrange things” when he was opposing, as rapporteur for the Committee on External Trade, the EU-Morocco agreement on reciprocal liberalisation measures for agricultural and fisheries products.

In this context, a note from Morocco’s mission to the European Union (EU) stamped “confidential” and leaked in 2014 along with thousands of other documents by an anonymous hacker calling himself Chris Coleman – whose authenticity Rabat has never disputed – warned of the possible tabling of “malicious amendments” by “opponents” before the EP’s adoption of reports devoted to the eradication of torture in the world and the EU’s trade relations with Mediterranean countries.

She then advocates “a permanent follow-up of the inherent issues, notably the Morocco-EU agricultural agreement”.

José Bové also mentions the existence in the EP of a “very active club” of elected representatives who are always ready to defend Rabat’s interests with fervour.

“The policy of influence deployed by the kingdom in European forums and the keenness of certain French relays are no mystery”, underlines L’Humanité.

The journalist, among others, singled out the former French socialist MEP Gilles Pargneaux, who was president of the EU-Morocco friendship group, “a frequent visitor to the kingdom and is decorated by the Palace” and who has become a lobbying agent.

The French newspaper notes that former Portuguese Socialist MEP Ana Gomes did not hesitate to portray Pargneaux, on her Twitter account, as “the most brazen Moroccan lobbyist” she had met in the European Parliament, noting that he also presented himself as an “advisor” to the king.

“And in fact, his frequent interventions in the Makhzen media (the monarchical apparatus), his stances in Brussels, his acrimony displayed towards Moroccan opponents make him an unfailing supporter of the monarchical regime”, highlights L’Humanité.

He added: ” An adamant critic of the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination, which is enshrined in international law, the MEP was one of the most strident defenders of the agricultural and fisheries agreements that were nullified by the European courts.

The French newspaper also reports on the expulsion in 2018 of an alleged Moroccan spy from Belgium, a certain Kaoutar Fal, who had links with Gilles Pargneaux.

“State Security (…) considers that the person concerned constitutes a threat to national security, as it has established that Madame Fal and her organisations are actively involved in intelligence activities on behalf of Morocco. Furthermore, Madame Fal is also in contact with persons who are known to State Security for their activities in favour of or links with offensive foreign intelligence services. State Security also believes that she should be prevented from entering the country and moving within the Schengen zone in order to put an end to her activities and the danger she represents,” according to the Belgian police report on her arrest.

“We can see it with this scandal that shakes the European Parliament today: it is a diplomacy led by counter-espionage and the DGST (Directorate General of Territorial Surveillance). It confirms that the deep state, the Makhzen, has been reduced to its simplest expression: its police aspect,” says exiled Moroccan investigative journalist Aboubakr Jamaï.

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