International Trade Union Confederation dismisses general secretary | Qatargate

The Italian trade unionist Luca Visentini, implicated in the investigation for corruption in the European Parliament (EP), was dismissed Saturday as secretary general of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), announced this Sunday, March 12, the organization in a press release. .

“[O Conselho Geral da CSI-ITUC] decided that Luca Visentini no longer has the confidence [da organização] as secretary-general”, reads in the document, which advances that an Extraordinary World Congress will be held as soon as possible to elect a new leader.

“The events of the past few months have significantly damaged CSI’s reputation. Important lessons have been learned. […] We are determined to protect CSI from any form of undue influence, even suspected influence,” commented Akiko Gono, president of the organization.

However, the CSI, which federates 338 unions in 168 countries and territories around the world, guarantees that “it did not find any evidence” of donations from Qatar or Morocco “to influence its policies or programs”.

Luca Visentini was arrested in December 2022 in the Belgian investigation into suspected corruption of MEPs involving Qatar and Morocco, but was eventually released two days later, although he has to appear regularly in court.

At the end of December, the 54-year-old Italian trade unionist admitted having received a cash payment – ​​”a donation of less than 50,000 euros” – from the non-governmental organization Fight Impunity led by a compatriot, former deputy Pier Antonio Panzeri , considered the only one of the main suspects in the case.

However, Visentini assured that the donation was not linked to any attempt at corruption or influence peddling for the benefit of Qatar, underlining that the money was intended to reimburse some costs generated in the campaign to take over the leadership of the CSI.

Visentini was elected in November to lead the organisation, before being suspended from office on December 21 by the CSI governing body.

On Saturday, the CSI indicated that it was considering adding to its statutes “possible changes to the financing of campaigns for the election of leaders” of the confederation.

Currently, three people are in preventive detention in Belgium as part of the investigation opened by the Belgian courts on suspicions of interference by Qatar and Morocco in the positions assumed by the European Parliament, through cash payments that passed through Pier Antonio Panzeri.

On 9 December, during a first wave of arrests and searches in Brussels, investigators seized €1.5 million in cash. Over the past three months, Qatar and Morocco have vehemently denied involvement in any act of corruption.

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