Written by Andrew Mills
DOHA (Reuters) – A Qatari criminal court has sentenced the Gulf Arab state's former finance minister to 20 years in prison for laundering more than $5.6 billion, according to a sentencing summary document seen by Reuters.
The court of first instance also ordered Ali Sherif Al Emadi to pay a fine of 40.9 billion riyals (or twice the amount of money he laundered) and a total of more than 61 billion Qatari riyals ($16.7 billion). . More than 21 billion riyals, according to the document.
The judges also found Sheikh Nawaf bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani, a senior member of Qatar's ruling family and brother of Qatar's former prime minister, guilty of misappropriation of public funds. He was sentenced to six years in prison and fined 825 million riyals. , shown in the same document.
Emadi and Sheikh Nawaf, who were tried along with 14 others, can appeal the court's January 10 conviction. It was not immediately clear whether the two entered pleas to the charges during the trial.
Emadi's lawyer did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on the conviction, and Emadi has not commented publicly since his arrest.
Sheikh Nawaf could not be reached for comment. Katara Hospitality, where he was previously chairman, declined to provide contact details. A charity foundation run by a branch of the ruling party family, of which he previously chaired, said it no longer had any ties to him.
In addition to money laundering, Mr. Emadi was found guilty of bribery, abuse of position and power, and damage to public funds, according to the documents, which do not elaborate on the nature of the corruption.
A lawyer representing another defendant and a person familiar with the case confirmed the contents of the five-page court document, which was seen by Reuters.
Emadi was arrested in May 2021 and dismissed as finance minister.
Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said the investigation into Mr. Emadi was related to his capacity as finance minister, and that he had been involved in other business positions during his time as minister. He said he was not affiliated with the post.
The arrest, indictment and now conviction of senior Qatari officials such as Emadi and Sheikh Nawaf have shocked Qatar's financial institutions.
Such a high-profile anti-corruption investigation is unusual in the Gulf region, where high-ranking public figures are rarely subject to public scrutiny or prosecution. The day before Emadi's arrest in 2021, the Emir of Qatar abolished a provision granting immunity from prosecution to his ministers, according to the Official Gazette.
Sheikh Nawaf, brother of former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, owns London's Savoy and New York's Plaza and is developing the $600 million Katara Towers hotel project in Qatar Until 2021, he was chairman of QIA's hotel division, Katara Hospitality. .
(Reporting by Andrew Mills; Additional reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by William MacLean)