In letter to senator, Yasir Al-Rumayyan says he would be ‘inappropriate witness’
The governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has pushed back on a request by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to testify before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, citing concerns of foreign “sovereignty and international comity.”
In a letter sent to Sen. Blumenthal on Aug. 4, attorneys for Yasir Al-Rumayyan said the governor was “an inappropriate witness” for a public hearing because he is “a minister bound by the Kingdom’s laws regarding the confidentiality of certain information.”
Al-Rumayyan and PIF had cited similar sovereignty issues in an antitrust case in Northern California, but two U.S. District Court judges dismissed those concerns.
“The court based this conclusion, in part, on the fact that U.S. law exempts certain commercial activity from sovereign immunity. The court also stated that ‘typical investor activities’ could not be reasonably considered confidential information that would adversely affect Saudi Arabia, and that any sovereign considerations were diminished by ‘PIF’s intent’ to benefit from the United States market,’” Sen. Blumenthal wrote in his response to Al-Rumayyan’s claims.
Sen. Blumenthal requested Al-Rumayyan and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman testify before the subcommittee on July 11 but both cited “scheduling conflicts” for why they couldn’t attend.
“PIF’s counsel also contended that the subcommittee’s inquiry and document request raises ‘significant legal considerations,’ among them ‘consideration of and solicitude for the principles of sovereignty and international comity,’” the senator’s letter read.
Sen. Blumenthal requested Al-Rumayyan voluntarily appear at a hearing on Sept. 13 or “propose alternative dates by Aug. 18” to “discuss PIF’s commercial engagement with the United States.”
“If you continue to refuse to comply voluntarily the subcommittee will be forced to consider other legal methods to compel PIF’s compliance,” the letter to Al-Rumayyan read.
PIF and the PGA Tour reached a framework agreement in June to create a for-profit entity that would include the Tour, LIV Golf and the European circuit, ending the ongoing antitrust litigation between the three parties. Negotiations toward a definitive agreement are ongoing.
The Tour’s chief operating officer, Ron Price, and policy board member Jimmy Dunne testified before the subcommittee on July 11.