He has the clout to summon Tony Blair to Claridge’s for late-night enterprise negotiations, helped engineer the downfall of the Libyan despot Muammar Gaddafi and orchestrated his tiny desert nation’s profitable bid to host the World Cup.
However till this 12 months, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, Qatar’s former prime minister turned billionaire investor, might need escaped many individuals’s discover.
In June 2022, it was claimed that the Prince of Wales, now King Charles III, had accepted €3m in luggage full of money between 2011 and 2015 – donations to his charity, from the person identified variously as HBJ and “the person who purchased London”.
The report, by the Sunday Instances, threw a highlight on a 63-year-old whose exceptional community of political and enterprise connections is proof of guile and endurance amid political turmoil.
He not solely survived the 1995 cold coup in opposition to the regime he had served however remained on the coronary heart of Qatari home and international coverage, because the tiny emirate – whose citizen inhabitants is akin to that of Coventry – thrust itself on to the world stage.
His hyperlinks to the UK return a long time and haven’t been with out controversy. Thani was international minister in 1996, when Qatar signed a £500m arms contract with the British defence firm BAE Methods. It later emerged that the deal concerned the switch of £7m into two Jersey trusts that he owned.
When the Jersey authorities launched an investigation into the funds, in accordance with reviews by the Observer, the British authorities warned them to again off or danger harming UK-Qatari relations.
Thani ended up paying the Jersey authorities £6m voluntarily, with out admitting any wrongdoing. Blair’s authorities denied reviews that it put stress on Jersey officers to drop the case.
Blair and Thani would go on to develop an in depth working relationship. Between 2004 and 2009, a interval throughout which Thani graduated from international minister to prime minister, Qatar’s Al Udeid airbase turned a staging publish for US and UK navy operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After Blair was succeeded by Gordon Brown in 2007, Thani would play a crucial function in British monetary stability too. Qatar invested in Barclays through the monetary disaster in 2008, when Thani was prime minister, sparing the federal government the expense of bailing out the financial institution, because it needed to with Royal Financial institution of Scotland, Lloyds and Halifax Financial institution of Scotland. Thani’s private funding automobile, Challenger, took a stake within the financial institution too.
Three former Barclays executives have been later accused of devising fraudulent advisory providers agreements to disguise funds price £322m to Qatar in trade for the funding. They have been discovered not responsible in February 2020 and there was no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Thani or Qatar. Barclays is now interesting in opposition to a regulatory advantageous over the deal.
With the globally influential Thani on the helm, the emirate turned a pivotal participant in political upheaval within the Gulf.
Qatar backed efforts to depose Gaddafi and supported the Arab spring uprisings, together with by way of the state-owned information channel Al Jazeera.
Thani additionally allegedly conceded that beneath his premiership Qatar “possibly” financed the al- Nusra Entrance, the Syrian department of al-Qaida, with out his data.
Earlier than leaving workplace, he was reunited with Blair in 2012, when a weary group of bankers and executives reached an deadlock over the proposed £50bn merger of the mining companies Glencore and Xstrata.
The previous British PM was known as to late-night talks at Claridge’s lodge in Mayfair to assist dealer a take care of Thani, who managed Qatar’s stake in Xstrata and was demanding improved phrases on the deal.
Blair broke the impasse and reportedly walked away with an advisory charge of as much as $1m from the negotiating events for a number of hours’ work.
The incident epitomised what one one that has performed enterprise with Thani described as a relentless will to win, deploying his unrivalled connections to attain his targets.
It additionally confirmed that he might pull strings within the highest locations to leverage his nation’s huge gasoline riches.
Not solely did he preside over Qatar’s controversial bid to host the 2022 World Cup, however he masterminded the acquisition of status belongings comparable to Harrods, the Shard and stakes in blue-chip corporations such because the London Inventory Trade and the British Airways proprietor IAG.
Though he stepped down in 2013, his private enterprise dealings have run in parallel with these of the Qatari state. He has amassed a beneficial portfolio of London property and motels – helpful for a person who reportedly has two wives and 15 youngsters. The community of British enterprise pursuits is run from 67 Brook Avenue, a Mayfair deal with that was as soon as house to the Bee Gees.
The flagship of his portfolio is the Maybourne Lodge Group, together with Claridge’s and the Connaught, which he owns in partnership with the previous emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, his buddy and ally. In 2021, he additionally purchased a £200m stake in Richard Caring’s Caprice Holdings, which incorporates the Ivy and Attractive Fish eating places, and the non-public members’ membership Annabel’s.
His London residential property contains Forbes Home, a mansion he’s mentioned to be growing into the capital’s first £300m house and a triplex house on the One Hyde Park growth that he financed in partnership with the Sweet brothers. Each are owned through offshore corporations, Land Registry data counsel.
His pursuits outdoors the UK embrace a stake in Deutsche Financial institution and in depth enterprise pursuits in Qatar. Khalifa famously mentioned that whereas he ran Qatar, Thani owned it.
At instances, it has been unclear whether or not Thani is a businessman, a diplomat, or a combination of the 2.
In 2014, he purchased an 80% stake in Heritage Oil, regardless of being listed as a “counsellor” on the Qatari embassy.
In principle, diplomats are prohibited from business dealings for private revenue however his attorneys argued the acquisition didn’t represent ongoing commerce exercise.
Two years later, the UK excessive courtroom dominated he couldn’t be sued in London over claims that brokers appearing on his behalf falsely imprisoned and tortured a British citizen who claimed that his land, in Qatar, had been wrongfully seized. Thani invoked diplomatic immunity but additionally denied the claims. “Mr al-Attiya’s extraordinarily severe allegations are, with out exception, a mix of distortion, exaggeration and wholesale fabrication,” his attorneys mentioned.
Based on the Panama Papers leak of offshore secrets and techniques, Thani used a shell firm to the 133-metre Al Mirqab yacht in 2002. The vessel, price $300m, reportedly has a helicopter touchdown pad, Jacuzzi, cinema, health club and spa.
In Could 2015, he purchased Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger (Model O) for $179.4m together with charges, then a file worth for a portray at public sale.
The Guardian has approached him for remark.