Qatar arrests finance minister in corruption probe

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Qatar’s public prosecutor has ordered the arrest of the finance minister, state-run media reports today, to question him over alleged abuse of power and misuse of public funds in the energy-rich state.

The Qatar News Agency doesn’t provide other details about the investigation, and the nature of the case against Ali Sharif al-Emadi, who has served finance minister since 2013, isn’t immediately clear. Al-Emadi rose to prominence in the Gulf Arab emirate of Qatar after overseeing the growth of Qatar National Bank for years.

The statement says authorities are investigating reported crimes related to his public role. Arrests of such high-ranking officials on suspicion of corruption are rare in Qatar.

Corruption remains rampant in Gulf Arab sheikhdoms flush with petrodollars and in the wider Middle East. In its 2020 corruption perceptions index, which surveys economic experts about the perceived level of public sector corruption, corruption watchdog Transparency International listed Qatar among the least corrupt in the region, with a score of 63 out of 100. The scale ranks countries between zero, which is “highly corrupt,” and 100, for “very clean.”

Qatar’s Finance Minister Ali Sharif Al Emadi listens during the third annual US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue at the State Department, September 14, 2020 in Washington. (Erin Scott/Pool via AP)

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