Athens, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) – What has started as Qatargate has already become Moroccogate. As the investigation with the corruption scandal continues in Brussels, more and more information emerge every other hour. Spiegel’s revelations about the possible involvement of the Archirodon group and its Greek leader in a case of lobbying in favor of Morocco in the European Parliament. This new evidence suggests that Morocco has been heavily involved in the lobbying of MEPs by different means including the use of consulting and PR companies let alone “bribing” of MEPs.
Morocco has formed strong lobbying network in Brussels led by former Italian MEP, the kingpin of the current crisis Antonio Panzeri. Panzeri established different NGOs, companies to use as a cover to receive Money from Morocco’s Abderrahim Atmoun.
Spiegel magazine gives new dimensions to the corruption scandal that has shocked Brussels. “The scandal of the European Parliament that started as “Qatargate”, may develop into “Moroccogate”, since the country seems to have played a more important role in the case than Qatar” summarizes the German columnist. More specifically, according to information on the website of the German magazine, Morocco may have exerted legal and illegal influence on Brussels even more intensively and for a longer period of time than Qatar.”
The key figure is the Moroccan Abderrahim Atmoun
“Moroccan intelligence service DGED allegedly recruited already in 2019 a group with the Italians Panzeri, Giorgi and the MEP Coccolino , to influence the group of Social Democrats in the European Parliament”, while others were later added to the list, such as Eva Kaili . Abderrahim Atmoun , current Moroccan ambassador in Poland, is presented as the one who financed and guided the action of the above .
“Atmun maintained close relations with the E.U. and especially with France. In 2011, then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy made Atmoun a knight of the Legion of Honor, a first for a Moroccan politician. In Warsaw from 2019 he met the Italian trio Panzeri, Giorgi and Coccolino – just as he did on every trip to Brussels. On the other hand, the involvement of the director general of DGED, Mohamed Mansouri himself, is not ruled out, as there is evidence that “the Moroccan secret service many times booked expensive flight tickets for Pancheri, in order to meet with Mansouri”.
In fact, “in October 2021 Panzeri had requested a meeting with an agenda of “strategies for the European Parliament”. It is not yet known if this took place.” Both Mansouri and the Moroccan government have avoided any statement. The German media also publishes that “Moroccan intelligence services play an active role in Brussels”, especially for the outcome of issues regarding fishing rights and the conflict with the Western Sahara, large parts of which Morocco has owned for decades. Despite this being known, “the MEPs overwhelmingly approved a resolution strongly condemning Qatar for illegal influence – but not Morocco”.
When in September amendments were proposed that would worsen Morocco’s diplomatic relations with the EU, “the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament received a letter from Denis Karapiperis , managing director of the Archirodon group “, as the article mentions by name, “which deals with port facilities, energy and transport infrastructure’.
According to Spiegel, “Karapiperis wrote that the two amendments aim to “call into question the territorial integrity of Morocco” and to denounce it as a country that “violates human rights and keeps the E.U. hostage”, […] further arguing that the experience of building two ports in Morocco, led him to the conclusion that the Moroccan government not only works hard for the economic development of its country, but also plays a “positive role” in the Mediterranean and the Africa. In the end, the two amendments did not appear in the final text”, (SS the vote took place on 14.09.22). Karapiperis states in the same letter that he wanted to raise the issue following his communication with Mohamed Sbihi, the Moroccan ambassador in Athens.