London: There is an ongoing political scandal, involving allegations that European Parliament officials, lobbyists and their families have been influenced by the governments of Qatar, Morocco and Mauritania, engaging in corruption, money laundering, and organised crime.

A prominent Turkish human rights legal consultant, who had accused India of "war crimes against Kashmiri Muslims", has admitted that he paid one of the suspects in the European Parliament corruption scandal for "ethical lobbying services" that included resolutions condemning war crimes in Syria and Yemen, the Financial Times reported.

Hakan Camuz's UK-based law firm Stoke White had last year filed cases against top Indian officials, accusing them of "war crimes against Kashmiri Muslims".

The firm had put up a "legal appeal" against the Indian Army Chief and Home Minister to London's Metropolitan Police following an investigative report on alleged "war crimes in Jammu and Kashmir."

Hakan Camuz said that two of his groups entered "consultancy contracts" with a company linked to Francesco Giorgi, the assistant of Pier Antonio Panzeri, a former MEP at the heart of the corruption scandal, for what he believed were "parliamentary services".

Camuz told the Financial Times he only spoke with Giorgi and believed the company was legitimate.

Camuz, who is not under investigation and is not accused of wrongdoing, said the agreed "services" included facilitating meetings with other MEPs, public events in Brussels, parliamentary questions and securing EU funding for his charitable causes.

The Financial Times reported that Giorgi has admitted to helping his boss use a web of companies to disguise payments from foreign governments including Qatar and Morocco, according to evidence from the investigation seen by the FT.

Camuz, a lawyer who has ties with the administration of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said he was "shocked and appalled" by the case and denied any knowledge of wrongdoing by Giorgi and Panzeri.

"The payments [from Camuz-related entities] were in return for petitions to condemn war crimes in Syria and the protection of refugees," the Financial Times wrote quoting Camuz, the lawyer who has good connections with the administration of Turkish President Erdogan.

Giorgi also promised to help introduce resolutions condemning war crimes in Yemen, Camuz said. "Sadly, the results were very poor compared to what we talked about," he added.

Italian prosecutors last week expanded the Belgian-led investigation into suspected corruption by opening a separate money laundering probe. The prosecutors are looking into payments worth almost 300,000 euros into Italian bank accounts held at Intesa Sanpaolo by a consultancy set up by Panzeri's accountant, according to documents seen by the Financial Times.

According to a transcript of Giorgi's statement to investigators, the Milan-based company Equality Consultancy Srl was allegedly set up by Panzeri and Giorgi's associates in Italy as a vehicle for payments for their lobbying efforts. The company was placed into liquidation at the end of 2020 and finally shut down in June 2021, the Financial Times wrote in their report.

Two of the three entities that paid the consultancy a total of EUR 75,000 are connected to Camuz, according to payment invoices seen by the FT.

In 2019, The Radiant Trust, a "grant-making body" where Camuz is a trustee, was charged EUR 50,000 by Equality Consultancy. Camuz's London-based advisory company, Phronesis, which was renamed Stoke White in November 2021, was charged EUR 25,000.

A separate Istanbul-based company was issued with two invoices totalling EUR 200,000 by the Italian consultancy company. The first invoice, issued at the end of 2018, came when Panzeri was still an MEP and chair of the EU parliament's human rights committee. There is no evidence the Istanbul-based company is linked to Camuz, as per the report by the Financial Times.

Camuz said he is "devastated" by the allegations made by Giorgi and said he "was lied to".

He is considering taking legal action against Giorgi: "[He] honey trapped us into thinking he was the perfect person with whom we can work with."

"We made an agreement thinking we were talking to a legitimate entity who would help us raise awareness of cases we deal with," Camuz said. He and his partners had "no problem in paying for such services" as they were part of legal campaigns against human rights abuses in Syria and Yemen.

Camuz said: "Francesco [Giorgi] approached me suggesting that he can help us do ethical lobbying services in Brussels at low cost which was very impressive because he was talking about helping war crimes victims and victims of human rights abuses," the Financial Times reported.

Giorgi is charged with corruption, money laundering and partaking in a criminal organisation by Belgian authorities. He is now free with an electronic tag after cooperating with authorities.

The Financial Times reported that Giorgi's boss Panzeri, who has been in jail since December, agreed to a plea deal with Belgian authorities in February, after admitting to receiving payments of up to EUR 2.6 million from the governments of Qatar, Morocco and Mauritania between 2018 and 2022.

The Milanese company was set up by Panzeri's accountant Monica Rossana Bellini in 2018, when Panzeri was still a member of the European parliament, according to public records.

A lawyer for Bellini in Milan, who is awaiting a decision this week on her transfer to Belgium after being arrested in January and released on February 10, did not reply to multiple requests for comment.

Giorgi told Belgian investigators that in 2018 a Palestinian, who acted as an intermediary for the Qataris, advised him to call Camuz to support him in setting up a scheme to regularise payments for lobbying services, according to a transcript seen by the FT.

At the time Giorgi was still working as assistant to MEP Panzeri, who left the EU parliament the following year and then set up the campaign group at the centre of the corruption scandal, Fight Impunity.

"We made it look like the company [Equality Consultancy Srl] had offered services to Hakan's, of which I can't remember the name," Giorgi said, according to the transcript of his evidence. Camuz denied the allegation. Giorgi's lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.

"I would never knowingly do anything illegal nor would I allow any illegal activity in any of the entities I am involved in," the Financial Times wrote quoting Camuz.

In his testimony, Giorgi said his role in the scheme was to facilitate communications between Bellini, Panzeri's lawyer daughter Silvia, and Camuz, as the Italian women did not speak English.

Camuz said he never knew Bellini nor Panzeri's daughter. "Giorgi said they were his staff and partners and I never questioned his own internal staffing details."

Financial Times reported that Silvia Panzeri was briefly arrested with her mother, Maria Dolores Colleoni, in December. Belgian authorities dropped requests for them to be transferred to Brussels after Panzeri struck his plea deal.