By Shane McGinley
Authority to scrutinize ministries, state agencies for abuse of power or funds
Qatar has set up an anti-corruption watchdog to track state ministries and agencies and to probe claims of abuses of power or public funds, the wealthy Gulf state said Wednesday.
The country’s ruler, Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, said the Administrative Control and Transparency Authority would also scrutinise the activities of government-linked agencies.
The authority’s tasks will include probing the misuse of public funds and investigating complaints against government officials. The agency may also have access to banking details, in cases that allege money laundering activities.
Gulf countries have stepped up efforts to fight government corruption in the wake of widespread political tensions across the Arab world. The misuse of power and funding has been seen as a key trigger behind the protests that toppled rulers in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
The chief of Dubai Police said this month that abuses of power by security forces and governments in Middle East countries were a root cause of the uprisings.
“There has been an unprecedented backlash because of the spread of corruption in these countries, and these protests in the street are the outcome of decades of corruption,” said Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim.
“I wish that every government official would realize the fact that corruption is not a curse that will chase him only, but also will drag others along with him.”
In Egypt, a slew of deals and politicians linked to the former regime of Hosni Mubarak have faced scrutiny following his ouster in February. Former Egyptian housing minister Ahmed al-Maghrabi was sentenced to five years in jail in May over an illegal land deal in the Mubarak era; he and a businessman involved were ordered to return a total of 72 million Egyptian pounds ($12.6m) to the state and were together fined a further 72 million pounds.
Neighbouring Gulf state Kuwait saw the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al Mohammed Al Sabah and his cabinet on Monday, amid allegations of corruption.
Opposition lawmakers led a group of protesters who stormed the parliament building on Nov 16 after clashing with riot police.