“The man who bought London”: Qatar billionaire behind the Prince Charles scandal | Qatar

With an estimated personal net worth of over 1.2 billion dollars (almost 1 billion pounds) according to Forbes, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, the former prime minister of Qatar, is one of the country’s richest men – and has often received attention because of his fortune and is currently in the headlines of alleged money donations to Prince Charles.

Sometimes known as “HBJ” in London’s financial circles, the 62-year-old was named “the man who bought London” after using his fortune, as well as his influence as head of Qatar’s multibillion-dollar sovereign wealth fund, Qatari Investment Authority, to expand Qatar’s financial assets in London through a number of valuable assets.

From 2000 to 2013, al-Thani oversaw a number of high-profile investments in corporate UK, including Harrods, the Shard (95% owned by Qatar), London’s Olympic Village and Park Lane’s InterContinental hotels.

Al-Thani also stood out for his political prowess. He is a relative of Qatar’s ruling family, and has held several high-profile positions in Qatar’s government, including Foreign Minister in 1992. He was appointed Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister in 2003. In 2007, he became Prime Minister, a role he resigned from in 2013.

In an interview with the Financial Times in 2016, he was described as an unapologetic statesman “known for his willingness to express his opinion, to swing shamelessly from one policy to another”.

Over the years, he has been instrumental in orchestrating Qatar’s involvement in international diplomacy, including in Yemen, Syria and Israel and the Palestinian territories. Al-Thani was nicknamed the “founder of peace” for his efforts to mediate reconciliation between warring factions in Africa and the Middle East, according to a report from the Middle East Eye in 2015.

It may therefore come as little surprise that the former emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, several years ago was rumored to have remarked that although he ruled the country, it was his then prime minister, HBJ, who owned it. .

He is also said to have admitted that during his presidency, Qatar “perhaps” financed the Al-Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, without his knowledge.

In 2012, Al-Thani was named one of the world’s 100 most influential figures by Time magazine, a decision backed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who described his close friend as “a wise personality, a model leader and a man of broad vision. ».

In recent years, the investigation has swung back to al-Thani’s economy. In 2016, he was named by the Panama Papers, one of the biggest data leaks ever the world’s fourth largest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca.

According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, it was revealed that al-Thani used offshore companies to manage his superyacht moored in Mallorca, Al Mirqab, which is estimated to be worth 300 million dollars.

Qatar’s investment in Barclays during the financial crisis of 2008, when al-Thani was prime minister, became the center of a criminal case over the controversial service agreement reached between the lender and the small Gulf state. Three former Barclays executives have been accused of developing fraudulent consultancy deals to hide £ 322 million in payments to Qatar.

In 2021, al-Thani was also named in the Pandora Papers, which revealed that he had used offshore companies in tax havens including the British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas.