May 20, 2024 | Flash Brief

Qatari Royal Facing Arrest Warrant in UK Over $6 Billion Debt

May 20, 2024 | Flash Brief

Qatari Royal Facing Arrest Warrant in UK Over $6 Billion Debt

Latest Developments

An English judge issued an arrest warrant on May 16 for a member of Qatar’s ruling Al Thani family. Sheikh Fahad Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Thani, a cousin of former Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, failed to appear in court over a $6 billion debt owed to an Anglo-Spanish trust. Sheikh Fahad began drawing credit in 2009 to finance luxury resorts in Libya and Europe. The debt has since swelled from $900 million to $6 billion, which The Telegraph reports “is thought to be the biggest single debt owed by an individual in English legal history.”

Expert Analysis

“From FIFA and EU bribes to American college campuses, hostage deals, and running out on debt in the UK, Doha believes it can act with impunity anywhere in the world. The Al Thanis are long overdue for accountability in the West.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“Away from the air-brushed image of itself that Qatar projects to the outside world, the scandal with Sheikh Fahad Al Thani at its center is one more demonstration of the emirate’s rulers contempt for the laws and business practices of other countries. Al Thani, who has reportedly fled to Doha from London, should be extradited to the United Kingdom immediately to answer these serious charges. More broadly, this is an opportunity for the United States and other countries to review their commercial relations with the Al Thani clan and its acolytes.” — Ben Cohen, FDD Senior Analyst and Rapid Response Manager

Qatari Investments Abroad

Qatar has invested billions of dollars abroad across a range of industries, from energy and education to sports and real estate. Qatar’s real estate portfolio includes approximately £10 billion ($12.7 billion) in real estate in the United Kingdom as well as high-end hotels such as the Plaza and St. Regis in New York and the St. Regis in San Francisco.

Qatari Bribery

In 2022, Belgian authorities launched an investigation into a Qatari bribery scheme involving at least €1.5 million ($1.6 million) in payouts to European Union officials. U.S. court documents also support allegations that Qatar bribed FIFA, soccer’s governing body, in 2010 to win the hosting rights to the 2022 World Cup. Leaked documents show that Doha offered FIFA $400 million three weeks before the soccer body selected Qatar. Qatar reportedly offered FIFA another $480 million three years later.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Qatar But Were Afraid to Ask,” FDD Foreign Podicy with Clifford D. May, Jonathan Schanzer, and Richard Goldberg

It’s not just the EU that needs to scrutinize Qatar’s influence campaigns,” by Jonathan Schanzer and Hussain Abdul-Hussain

The World Cup Spotlights Qatar’s Abuses,” FDD Flash Brief

Issues:

Arab Politics Gulf States