Senate subpoenas Saudi’s $700bn sovereign wealth fund over US dealings

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Saudi Arabia’s $700bn sovereign wealth fund – which has been used as a lever of global influence by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – has been subpoenaed by a powerful Senate committee after it refused to voluntarily comply with information requests about its US dealings.The subpoena, which was issued by the Senate’s permanent subcommittee on investigations, is targeting the Public Investment Fund’s wholly-owned US subsidiaries in connection to the group’s proposed golf deal and “related investments throughout the United States”.The PIF is also the majority owner of Newcastle United football club.

The subpoena was announced on Wednesday at a committee hearing led by its chairman, the Democratic senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. On its face, the hearing was meant to focus on Saudi’s controversial proposed golf merger.But the hearing – and lengthy remarks by both Democrats and Republicans – delved instead into Saudi’s record human rights abuses, the kingdom’s alleged role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and fundamental objections to attempts by the oil rich nation to takeover assets of national interest.Senators were visibly agitated by the PIF’s lack of compliance with voluntary requests for disclosure, which is seen by the lawmakers as part of a troubling posture by Saudi officials to put themselves out of reach of US law.