10 May 2021: Qatar’s finance minister has been arrested over allegations of abuse of power and misuse of public funds in the gas-rich Gulf state, state media say. The attorney general ordered that Ali Shareef al-Emadi be questioned after a review of alleged “crimes related to the civil service”, according to the Qatar News Agency.
Emadi, who sits on the board of Qatar’s $300bn (£216bn) sovereign wealth fund and is chairman of Qatar National Bank, has made no comment.
Mr Emadi was chief executive of the bank, the Middle East’s largest lender, before becoming finance minister in 2013. He was appointed as part of a new cabinet when the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, came to power.
Last year, the British financial magazine The Banker gave Emadi its “Finance Minister of the Year” award for the Middle East. It cited his efforts in managing Qatar’s finances during the coronavirus pandemic, during which its economy shrank by 3.7% amid lower global energy demand.
The Financial Times in London is quoted as as saying the charges against Emadi “relate to bribery and commissions relating to government contracts”. Such arrests are rare in Qatar, but the tiny emirate has sought to crack down on corruption.
Qatar was ranked 30th out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s 2020 corruption perceptions index, making it the second best performer among Arab states after the UAE.