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Global union leader fired over links to EU scandal

BRUSSELS – The general secretary of the international trade union ITUC has been dismissed from his post over his links to a European Parliament bribery scandal involving Qatar, the association said.

Luca Visentini was arrested in December as part of an investigation into alleged corruption among lawmakers in Qatar and Morocco.

The 54-year-old Italian, who was detained for two days and then released but remains a suspect, was suspended by the International Trade Union Confederation executive board in December.

The board ruled on Saturday that he “no longer had the confidence of the General Council” and would be removed from his post.

“The events of the last few months have seriously damaged the ITUC’s reputation,” said Akiko Gono, President of the organization, which brings together 338 unions in 168 countries and territories around the world.

“We are determined to protect the ITUC from any form of improper influence, or even the appearance of such influence.”

The ITUC also said a report by its task force and external auditors “found no evidence of donations from Qatar or Morocco affecting ITUC policies or programmes”.

– bribe ring –

Visentini has admitted receiving 50,000 euros ($53,000) from the NGO of former MEP and lobbyist Pier Panzeri, who allegedly ran the bribery ring and struck a deal with prosecutors last month in exchange for a lighter sentence.

On Sunday, Visentini said he deeply regretted the ITUC’s decision.

“I reiterate that I am innocent of the corruption and money laundering allegations made against me,” he said in a statement sent to AFP.

“It is also absolutely clear that the ITUC is in no way involved in this investigation.

“Everything I have done I have done in good faith and for the good of the union movement, it has never been driven by personal ambition.

“The donation I received went to the ITUC to help unions in need, I believed this money came from a reliable source.

“Facts and public statements clearly show that my positions on Qatar have always been clear, strong and critical and that I have never been influenced by this or any other government, institution or opposition,” he continued.

“I was not bribed in any way when I received a donation and I have not kept any money for myself but have given it all to the union movement.”

– Panzeri’s allegations –

Brussels was rocked by the huge transplant probe that sent shockwaves through the elected EU assembly and sparked international controversy.

Both Qatar and Morocco insist they played no role in the scandal, but prosecutors say Panzeri has confessed to handing out bribes on her behalf to influence Brussels politicians.

Visentini said the money was intended to cover the costs of his campaign to become ITUC general secretary.

The organization said it will hold an “extraordinary world congress” to elect a new secretary.

In December, Belgian police seized more than €1.5 million in cash in raids around Brussels and arrested six suspects, including Panzeri and then-vice-president of the parliament Eva Kaili.

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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