Qatar’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of Finance Minister Ali Shareef al-Emadi as part of an investigation into alleged misuse of public funds and abuse of power, according to state media.
Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported on Thursday that the decision had been taken after the review of documents and reports regarding crimes related to the public sector.
An “expanded” investigation was under way, it added.
“The attorney general has ordered the arrest of Minister of Finance Ali Sharif Al Emadi, and his questioning about matters raised in the reports regarding crimes pertaining to public office, such as damage to public funds, exploiting one’s post, and abuse of power,” QNA said.
No other details were immediately available.
Sources with knowledge of the matter told Al Jazeera the investigation is related to al-Emadi’s position as finance minister and not to his board member roles at other entities.
Al-Emadi, who oversaw the growth of Qatar National Bank, has served as finance minister since 2013.
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He sits on the board of Qatar’s powerful $300bn sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority.
Al-Emadi steered Qatar’s economic policies during the 2014-15 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 percent last year 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.
Al-Emadi was named 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 football World Cup next year, has invested heavily in infrastructure over the past few years in the run-up to the event, which means spending on big projects is set to decrease this year, the finance ministry has said.
Real gross domestic product is expected to grow 2.2 percent this year thanks to the rollout of vaccines, a gradual easing of coronavirus-related restrictions and an increase in oil demand and prices.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES