International Trade Union Confederation dismisses its leader after ‘Catargate’

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The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) announced that it has withdrawn confidence in its general secretary, Luca Visentini, for his alleged involvement in the alleged bribery scheme in the European Parliament linked to Qatar and Morocco.

In a statement, the Confederation said its General Council met to examine a report commissioned in January “on the circumstances surrounding the allegations against Luca Visentini, including the results of the external audit,” which “found no evidence that donations from Qatar or Morocco influenced ITUC’s policies or programmes.”

However, “the meeting decided that Luca Visentini no longer had the confidence of the General Council as Secretary General of the ITUC” and it has been decided to organize an extraordinary World Congress as soon as possible, at which a new Secretary General will be elected.

The president of the ITUC, Akiko Gono, regretted that the alleged involvement of Visentini in this plot “has caused significant damage to the reputation” of the entity and assured that “important lessons have been learned”.

“We are determined to protect the ITUC from any form of undue influence, or even the appearance of such influence. We will work hard to bring about the necessary changes as we continue to fight for workers’ rights, social justice and equality in all parts of the world,” Gono stressed.

Visentini was one of the first to be arrested in December 2022 when the scope of the Belgian authorities’ investigation into this plot was revealed and he was suspended as secretary general of the ITUC at the time.

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Very critical of Qatar a decade ago, when he denounced that there workers were reduced to “slavery”, the positions of the union leader evolved over the years towards much friendlier positions.

The Italian, 53, was released on charges of corruption and money laundering, but not for criminal organization like the main ones involved in the plot: the former Italian Social Democratic MEP and founder of the NGO Fight against Impunity Pier Antonio Panzeri, his assistant Francesco Giorgi or the latter’s partner and former vice president of the European Parliament, the Greek Social Democrat Eva Kaili.

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