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Qatar orders arrest of finance minister over alleged embezzlement

Attorney general orders Ali Shareef Al Emadi to be detained over alleged crimes related to the public sector
Al Emadi has been minister of finance since 2013 and sits on the board of its powerful $300bn sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority (AFP)

Qatar’s attorney general ordered the arrest of Finance Minister Ali Shareef Al Emadi on Thursday as part of an investigation into alleged misuse of public funds and abuse of power, according to state media.

Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported that the decision had been taken after the review of certain documents and reports regarding crimes related to the public sector.

“The attorney general ordered the arrest of the Minister of Finance Ali Shareef Al Emadi 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… of power,” QNA said.

An investigation is underway, the statement added.

Al Emadi has been minister of finance since 2013 and sits on the board of its powerful $300bn sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority.

He is also chairman of the board of directors of Qatar National Bank, the largest lender in the Middle East and Africa.

"The findings and investigation are related to his government position as finance minister and not to his board member roles at other entities," a source with knowledge of the investigation told Reuters, declining to give further details

Al Emadi steered Qatar's economic policies during the 2014-2015 oil price crash that prompted the tiny nation - as well as other Gulf countries - to accelerate plans to diversify the economy.

Bloomberg reported that there had been recent speculation about Al Emadi having fallen out of favour after he was replaced as chairman of the Qatar Financial Centre - a platform through which most foreign financial firms working in the country are registered and among agencies that encourage foreign investment.

Al Emadi was named as 2020’s best minister in the region by The Banker, an international financial magazine that organises an annual celebration of finance ministers.