Bipartisan Senate Subcommittee Demands Transparency from Saudi Investment Fund
Members of a Senate subcommittee on homeland security called for transparency from a Saudi Arabian investment fund during its second hearing on the controversial merger of the PGA Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf. The subcommittee, led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, expressed concerns about the lack of oversight and growing investments from Saudi Arabia in the United States.
Subpoena Issued for Documents Related to PGA Tour-LIV Golf Deal
In an effort to gain more information, Sen. Blumenthal announced that he had issued a subpoena to USSA International LLC, a U.S. subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), for documents related to the PGA Tour-LIV Golf deal and other U.S. investments.
Accusations of Exploitation and Influence Operation
Witnesses at the hearing, including Benjamin Freeman from the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, accused Saudi Arabia of exploiting loopholes in investment platforms to spread their influence and shape U.S. public opinion and foreign policy. According to a human rights expert, the PIF has been ranked as one of the least transparent and accountable investment funds in the world.
Saudi Investment Fund’s Growing Holdings in the U.S.
The Saudi Public Investment Fund, controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and backing LIV Golf, has significantly increased its investments in various sectors in the U.S., including entertainment, electronic vehicles, and gaming. The committee reported that these holdings have grown from $2.5 billion in 2018 to over $35 billion today.
Saudi Government’s Sports Investments
The Saudi government has been heavily investing in sports worldwide, recruiting top soccer players with lucrative contracts to play in Saudi Arabia’s pro league. Players such as Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Karim Benzema have accepted offers worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Lionel Messi, however, chose to join Major League Soccer in the United States instead.
Call for United States Law and Oversight
Sen. Blumenthal emphasized the need for foreign governments engaging in commercial activities in the United States, like the PIF, to be subject to U.S. law and oversight. He argued that current laws overlook commercial holdings by foreign governments and called for stricter scrutiny.
The Controversial PGA Tour-LIV Golf Deal
The proposed merger between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, which aims to create a for-profit subsidiary managing competitions, has faced criticism for potentially diverting attention from human rights violations. The deal would resolve ongoing litigation between the two entities, with the PGA Tour asserting its primary benefit from the partnership while the PIF is prepared to invest billions of new capital.
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