- Three high-profile Wall Street CEOs reportedly attempted to persuade Saudi officials to push back Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative conference.
- The push by JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, and Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman came amid backlash to the disappearance of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government, disappeared early this month after entering the Saudi Consulate in Turkey. Turkish officials have accused Saudi Arabia’s government of involvement in what they say is his death.
- Business leaders and media partners have pulled out of FII because of Khashoggi’s disappearance.
- Dimon, Fink, and Schwarzman also attempted to persuade Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to make his attendance at FII contingent on the Saudis offering more information on Khashoggi.
- The trio of CEOs eventually announced they would not attend the October 23-25 conference.
Three of Wall Street’s leading CEOs unsuccessfully tried to persuade Saudi Arabia’s government to delay a major investment conference amid fallout over the disappearance of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, and Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman attempted to persuade the Saudis to push back the Future Investment Initiative in the country’s capital of Riyadh, according to a report in The New York Times.
FII, scheduled to take place October 23-25, is meant to drum up investors’ support for the Saudis’ Public Investment Fund and interest in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan, which is intended to reshape the country’s economy and ease dependency on oil revenue.
The plan is heavily contingent on international investment, and Salman, colloquially known as MBS, has been courting American celebrities, politicians, and financiers over the past few years to bring in capital.
In addition to appealing to the Saudis directly, the three Wall Street titans also reportedly attempted to pressure Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin into making his appearance at FII contingent on the Saudis revealing more information about Khashoggi’s disappearance. That approach has also failed, as Mnuchin reiterated his intention to attend the conference on Friday.
After their failed attempts, a representative of Dimon’s confirmed to The Times on Sunday evening that he was dropping out of the conference, while sources told The Times on Monday that Schwarzman and Fink were doing the same.
The three executives’ companies have significant financial ties to Saudi Arabia. Prince Mohammed told Reuters in October 2017 that Blackstone, Schwarzman’s firm, and BlackRock, Fink’s firm, committed to opening offices in Riyadh.
Khashoggi’s disappearance has caused international furor and created a rift between the US and Saudi Arabia. The journalist, who has written for The Washington Post, is known to be critical of the Saudi government.
Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Reports have suggested that Prince Mohammed ordered Saudi officials to bring Khashoggi back to the country but during the attempt the journalist was killed.
Saudi Arabia has denied any role and claims Khashoggi left the consulate.
President Donald Trump told “60 Minutes” in an interview that aired Sunday that there would be “severe punishment” if the Saudis killed Khashoggi, but he softened his stance Monday morning.
“Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened ‘to our Saudi Arabian citizen.’ He said that they are working closely with Turkey to find answer,” Trump said. “I am immediately sending our Secretary of State to meet with King!”