The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) voted on April 26 to sanction current and former members of Azerbaijan’s government, including ex-president Pedro Agramunt, for corruption and breach of conduct.
This follows a 10-month-long investigation into alleged corruption by PACE lawmakers. As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, the investigation report was released on April 22.
PACE’s Procedure Committee called for those suspected of “activity of a corruptive nature” to be punished, as well as those who had breached PACE’s conduct code.
“The failings of some members and former members clearly involve corrupt practices extending far beyond the scope of the Parliamentary Assembly itself,” the committee wrote, calling on member states to “take appropriate action”.
According to Reuters, the corruption allegations revolve around lobbying activities undertaken by Azerbaijan to silence criticism from the human rights’ body in exchange for gifts and money, what the report termed “caviar diplomacy”.
The investigation indicted more than a dozen current and former members of PACE, including Agramunt.
Among other things, Agramunt has been accused of accepting €200,000 to assure his election as PACE president, luxury gifts including vacations, jewellery and watches, and accepting prostitutes as bribes during an electoral mission to Azerbaijan in 2015.
In response, Agramunt accused the Open Society Foundation headed by billionaire George Soros as the origin of the “campaign” against him and other PACE members.
Agramunt has said he will not step down as an MP in PACE. He resigned from the group’s presidency in October, pre-empting a motion to boot him, reported Reuters.