On July 19, investigators from the Central Office for the Suppression of Corruption (OCRC) conducted six searches on Mary Arena and her entourage. The Brussels apartment of Ugo Lemaire, the son of a Socialist MEP, was also among the places searched. Police found more than €280,000 in cash at the site. It was reported in the newspaper “Le Soir” at the time.
Investigation duties are carried out by police officers in charge of “Qatargate”. A case involving Qatar, Morocco and Mauritania’s attempted corruption within the European Parliament. In particular, Mary Arena’s name appears in the file because of her close links with the main accused, Antonio Panzeri.
Is the money found in Ugo Lemaire’s apartment next to the MEP’s house the result of a corruption scheme? Four months after its discovery, research shows no connection to “Qatargate”. Some analysis of the seizures made in July may still be carried out, including investigations of the principal involved. Ugo Lemaire has not yet been questioned by the police.
If links to the corruption file have not been completely ruled out, another hypothesis is now being explored: could the 280,000 euros found in cash come from drug trafficking? Cell phones were also seized during the search. Examination of the devices should reveal whether or not they may have been used to facilitate smuggling activities.
The drug trail is being systematically investigated in a separate investigation from Qatar. “Narcotics” investigators from the Federal Judicial Police in Brussels took over the case in mid-November in consultation with local police in Brussels. Purpose: Cross-reference the results of last summer’s raid on Ugo Lemaire’s home with information already available within the police to continue the investigation into the drug trafficking angle.
Hugo Lemaire’s name came up during searches carried out by the Brussels-Capital/Ixelles police zone before the bundles of money were seized by federal police officers. At the beginning of a street deal, when the police were going through the ranks of the cannabis distribution network, they identified him as operating in the entourage of some suspects.
However, investigators in the Brussels area have no evidence to initiate proceedings against Ugo Lemaire. This local inquiry is not directly about him. However, this prompts investigations that have just been launched by the Central Police for drug importation. Local and federal files are separate, but subject to consolidation taking into account possible connections.
Ugo Lemaire, with several partners in 2018, is a company active in the sale of CBD, legal cannabis, because it is known to be free of THC and its narcotic effects. This trade is completely legal. Research into possible trafficking begins without direct contact with this recognized activity and associated individuals.
The son of Trial Judge Michael Claes was one of the founders of CDB Trading Company. The investment, along with Marie Arena’s son Hugo Lemaire, prompted a Brussels investigating judge to pull out of Qatar in June due to a conflict of interest related to the suspect’s status. According to information currently available to RTBF, Michael Glaze’s son is not concerned in the investigation into drug trafficking.
Under the direction of the trial judge, the investigation uncovered the outline of the network of importation and trade of cannabis, a product covered by the Narcotics Trafficking Act. In line with the investigation, Ugo Lemaire’s trips to Morocco and Spain pique the interest of the police.
The purpose of these investigations is to determine whether Ugo Lemaire and other suspects are involved or, on the contrary, completely unrelated to the crime. The research will make it possible to clarify the origin of the 280,000 euros found.
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