U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., has called for Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, to comply with a congressional request for testimony and information.
The Senate is investigating the historic merger between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, which the PIF financially backs. Al-Rumayyan said he would be an “inappropriate witness” for the investigation, but Blumenthal believes otherwise.
Blumenthal, the chair of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, released a letter to Al-Rumayyan that states the subcommittee is “seeking to understand the scope of PIF’s U.S.-based investments and PIF’s plans for the PGA Tour and other U.S. entities.”
The PIF is the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and reported to have more than $700 billion in funds.
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The Senate launched the probe in June after PGA officials surprisingly announced the “newly-formed commercial entity to unify golf” after consistently condemning LIV Golf for months.
Al-Rumayyan told Blumenthal, per the senator, that he is “a minister bound by the [Saudi] Kingdom’s laws regarding the confidentiality of certain information.” Because of that, he will not speak to Blumenthal for the investigation.
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“The suggestion that your role as a Saudi Foreign Minister shields you from testifying about PIF’s commercial activities is deeply troubling and unsupported as a legal matter,” Blumenthal wrote in the letter, noting that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denied Al-Rumayyan’s claim that he has a right of privacy due to his “minister” status with Saudi Arabia.
Blumenthal wants Al-Rumayyan investigated because there are many questions regarding the new venture in terms of his authority and influence.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, who Al-Rumayyan worked with during the secret merger negotiations that occurred behind closed doors, said it will be the tour controlling golf’s future after combining with the vast asset pool of the PIF.
However, Al-Rumayyan is likely the man who will be calling the shots with those assets, and some believe he will have a powerful voice in golf moving forward.
“PIF cannot have it both ways: if it wants to engage with the United States commercially, it must be subject to United States law and oversight. That oversight includes this Subcommittee’s inquiry,” Blumenthal wrote in the letter.
What Blumenthal wants from Al-Rumayyan is “records regarding PIF’s current and planned commercial activity in the United States” as well as an agreement to appear before his subcommittee on Sept. 13. The records Blumenthal wants no later than Aug. 18.
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The PIF’s involvement in this merger has many worried about the future of the game. Saudi Arabia has been accused of “sportwashing,” steering attention away from its human rights abuse reputation.
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