Blumenthal Intensifies Probe into Saudi’s PIF over Golf Investments and Human Right Abuses


The intensity in United States Senator Richard Blumenthal’s probe into the Saudi Arabian government’s purported involvement in professional golf, alongside the prospective merger of LIV Golf and the PGA Tour, continues to escalate.

Senator Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat and the Chairman of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, recently issued a subpoena to the U.S. subsidiary of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF). The PIF happens to be the owner of the burgeoning LIV Golf tour.

The issuance of the subpoena is integral to an extensive investigation undertaken by Blumenthal, directed at unveiling the Saudi government’s attempts to obscure its history of human rights abuses. By investing in esteemed U.S. entities such as the PGA Tour, the Saudis are reportedly aiming to refurbish their global image.

In his memo highlighting the foundation of the subpoena, Blumenthal contends that the Saudi government is aggressively initiating efforts to augment its sway in the United States via the procurement of significant assets.

The Subcommittee’s investigation to date has revealed that PIF’s anticipated takeover of professional golf appears to be a fraction of a much larger, strategic expansion of its investments on a global scale. PIF’s assets have experienced a substantial growth surge, moving from $152 billion in 2015 to $776 billion currently. By 2030, the Saudi government aspires for this figure to reach a staggering $2 trillion.

PIF’s investments are not confined to the U.S. significant companies such as Meta Platforms, JPMorgan Chase, and Uber, but it also extends to renowned private equity firms. Senator Blumenthal points out that there exhibits a “lack of visibility” into how these investments potentially contribute to a wider Saudi strategy of influence promotion.

Blumenthal warns of the likelihood of the fund implementing measures to use its investments to conceal unfavorable narratives about Saudi Arabia. The example he cites is the alleged removal of a documentary critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by Vice Media, subsequent to its merger with a Saudi media company.

Moreover, Blumenthal cautions that the fund’s investments can potentially be implemented as a diversionary tool to distract from damaging stories about Saudi Arabia. He wrote about the practice known as ‘sportswashing,’ suggesting that PIF’s PGA Tour investment squarely fits this depiction.

The subpoena’s target is USSA International LLC, a wholly-owned U.S. affiliate of the PIF, demanding documents associated with the fund’s dealings with the PGA Tour and other U.S. investments. Blumenthal highlights the necessity of the subpoena, given the PIF’s refusal, alongside its governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, to voluntarily comply with the subcommittee’s probe over a three-month period.

Lastly, Blumenthal communicated his stance via a social media post: “The Saudi’s Public Investment Fund cannot have it both ways: if it wants to engage with the U.S. commercially, it must be subject to U.S. law & oversight.”

Amidst this ongoing investigation, LIV also faces scrutiny from various American gambling regulatory bodies, with Massachusetts prohibiting bets on LIV events shortly after declaring its interest in the PGA. Subsequently, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission raised concerns about the extraordinary sums LIV offered to their premier golf players, questioning the impact on the league’s competitive integrity. However, regulators have listed the league in the commonwealth’s new betting catalog.


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