Qatar Orders Arrest of Finance Minister for Alleged Embezzlement

Qatari Minister of Finance Ali Shareef al-Emadi attends the GCC Financial and Economic cooperation committee in Kuwait City on November 6, 2018. (Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP) (Photo credit should read YASSER AL-ZAYYAT/AFP via Getty Images)
YASSER AL-ZAYYAT/AFP via Getty Images

Qatar ordered the arrest of its finance minister, Ali Shareef Al-Emadi, on Thursday and relieved him of his ministerial duties as part of an investigation into his alleged “damage to public funds” and “abuse of power.”

Qatar Attorney General Ali Bin Mohsen Bin Fetais Al-Marri “ordered the arrest” of Qatar Finance Minister Al-Emadi “after reviewing documents, and their attached reports … to investigate what was mentioned in the reports of crimes related to practicing public office, which were damage to public funds, abuse of public office, and abusive of power,” the state-run Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported on May 6. “The Attorney General ordered extensive investigations regarding the crimes raised in the documents.”

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani issued a decree on May 6 relieving Al-Emadi of his post as finance minister and assigning the duties of the role to Qatar Commerce and Industry Minister Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari “in addition to” his trade and industry responsibilities.

Prior to his firing on Thursday, Al-Emadi had served as Qatar’s finance minister since 2013. He currently sits on the board of the wealthy Gulf Arab nation’s $300 billion sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). Al-Emadi also currently chairs the board of directors of Qatar National Bank (QNB), “the largest lender in the Middle East and Africa,” Reuters noted Thursday.

Qatar Foreign Minister and QIA chairman Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told Reuters on May 6 the criminal investigation into Al-Emadi was related to his role as Qatar finance minister only and was not related to his positions at either QIA or QNB.

“There are no allegations related to his roles in any other entities. We are confident that our companies and entities are running the highest levels of corporate governance and we are conducting regular reviews and audits for the governance of our companies,” Al-Thani said.

“Business is continuing as usual in our companies and our sovereign wealth fund,” he added.

Al-Emadi guided Qatar’s economy through the 2014-2015 oil price plunge that negatively impacted oil and gas producing Gulf nations like Qatar. He also promoted plans to diversify Qatar’s economy in the wake of the oil price crash. Qatar’s economy took another hit in 2020 as the Chinese coronavirus pandemic decreased global energy demand, causing the nation’s economy to shrink by 3.7 percent. Qatar’s economic contraction in 2020 was less severe than predicted by the International Monetary Fund, however, and the nation’s economy was also the least affected by the pandemic in the Gulf region.

Qatar owes much of its financial stability to its stores of liquefied natural gas. The state-run Qatargas company is the largest producer of liquefied natural gas in the world.

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