Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Dubai — Qatar finance minister Ali Sherif al-Emadi was arrested for questioning over allegations of embezzlement, abuse of power and crimes related to the public sector, a statement carried by state news agency QNA said on Thursday.

An investigation is under way, the statement added.

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

He is also chair 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 said, declining to give further details.

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.

Qatar, a leading producer of liquefied natural gas, saw its economy shrink by 3.7% in 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis and lower global energy demand.

However, the contraction was less than expected and was the smallest in the Gulf region, International Monetary Fund data showed.

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.

Qatar, which will host the soccer World Cup in 2022, has invested heavily in infrastructure over the past few years ahead of the event, which means spending on major projects is set to decrease in 2021, the finance ministry has said.

Real GDP is expected to grow 2.2% in 2021 thanks to the rollout of vaccines, a gradual easing of coronavirus-related restrictions and an increase in oil demand and prices. 

Reuters

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