British banker finally gets permission to leave Qatar

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The Independent Online

A British banker who was barred from leaving Qatar for 14 months after losing his job as chief executive of a state-owned bank and falling out with a member of the country's ruling family, has finally been given permission to leave the Gulf state.

David Proctor, a former chief executive of Standard Chartered's European operations, was dismissed as head of Al-Khaliji Bank last March.

He left after disagreeing about the bank's strategy with its chairman, His Excellency Sheikh Hamad Bin Faisal Bin Thani Al-Thani, who is also the country's Economy minister and the vice-chairman of the Qatar National Bank. Under Qatari law, all expats require an exit visa signed by an employer. Al-Khaliji Bank refused to allow Mr Proctor to leave, citing a number of legal investigations, all of which were dropped last summer.

Mr Proctor, who has now been reunited with his wife and infant son, said he had no intention of returning to Qatar. Al-Khaliji in Doha refused to discuss the case, arguing that a new inquiry had begun. In January, Charbel Cordahi, a spokesman for the bank, refused to say what the probe referred to, how long it would last or why the company would not allow Mr Proctor to leave.

The problem of former employees of state-owned companies not being allowed to leave the country, which expats refer to as being "sent to China", is increasing. The Foreign Office states bluntly: "Potential job-seekers should also be aware that, under Qatari labour law, the employer's permission to leave Qatar is required on every occasion."