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Congressional probe has questions about American investments

Yasir Al-Rumayyan

As a congressional probe continues to dig into the financial inner workings of the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, some interesting facts have surfaced on the size of the sovereign fund and its growth under governor Yasir al-Rumayyan.

On Wednesday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the chair of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, issued a subpoena to PIF’s wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary in search of documents that would pertain to PIF’s deal with the PGA Tour.

According to a memorandum from Blumenthal, D-Conn., after al-Rumayyan took control of the fund back in 2015, it grew from 40 employees to nearly 1,500 employees (as of 2021). Also, the fund now has $776 billion in assets under management, up more than five times from the $152 billion it had under its directive in 2015.

According to Blumenthal, this growth, some through holdings in American-based companies, should make the governor eligible for questioning by the subcommittee.

“The Saudi’s Public Investment Fund 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,” Blumenthal said. “That oversight includes this Subcommittee’s inquiry.”

Yasir al-Rumayyan, head of the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, looks on from the 18th green during day two of the LIV Golf Invitational – DC at Trump National Golf Club on May 27, 2023, in Sterling, Virginia. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

According to the memo, a move for PIF to obtain a large stake in the PGA Tour is just the latest of a series of shielded investments that should be raising eyebrows.

From the memo:

Visibility into PIF’s U.S.-based investments is greatly limited. The only information that PIF must report to the public about its U.S. investments is through required disclosures of investments in publicly-traded companies to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). These disclosures show that PIF’s public U.S. holdings have increased from $2.3 billion in March 2019 to $35.5 billion in March 2023. This $35.5 billion-dollar figure does not include the disclosure of private transactions. …

This lack of visibility is troubling for a number of reasons. First, there is potential to use investment to suppress unfavorable narratives about Saudi Arabia. For example, just this week reports emerged stating that Vice Media removed an unfavorable documentary regarding Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after it merged with…


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