Manama : Qatar’s attorney general on Thursday ordered the arrest of the country’s Finance Minister Ali Shareef al-Emadi to question him over alleged misuse of public funds and abuse of power. He has been relieved from his ministerial responsibilities, according to an announcement released hours after the arrest was made public.
Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani issued a decree relieving al-Emadi from his responsibilities as finance minister, according to a statement from the emir’s office later on Thursday. Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari, the current minister of commerce and industry, has been given additional charge of the ministry of finance.
The royal decree comes into immediate effect from the date it was issued and will be published in the official gazette, said the statement.
The arrest order was issued after the review of documents and reports regarding crimes related to the public sector, Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.
A large-scale investigation was underway, it added.
The minister will be questioned on reported crimes regarding crimes pertaining to public office, such as damage to public funds, exploiting one’s post, and abuse of power, QNA said.
Al-Emadi had been a stalwart of the country’s financial system, who oversaw the growth of Qatar National Bank, has served as finance minister since 2013. He is also on the board of country’s $300bn sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani told Reuters news agency that the probe was related to al-Emadi’s capacity as finance minister, and not to his posts at either the sovereign fund or the bank.
“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,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
He declined to provide further details of what he described as an ongoing investigation.
The Financial Times reported that the investigation is centered on his conduct as a minister, and not his other positions.
Al-Emadi steered Qatar’s economic policies during the 2014-15 oil price crash that prompted the tiny nation to accelerate plans to diversify the economy, Al Jazeera said.
He was named 2020’s best minister in the region by The Banker, an international financial magazine that organises an annual celebration of finance ministers.