Skip to main content

US senators request Saudi wealth fund governor to testify in LIV-PGA hearing

A possible testimony from Yasir al-Rumayyan could prompt questions on human rights issues and Khashoggi murder
Earlier this month, Blumenthal opened a probe into the deal, demanding a trove of documents from LIV Golf and the PGA Tour.
Earlier this month, Blumenthal opened a probe into the deal, demanding a trove of documents from LIV Golf and the PGA Tour (AFP/File photo)

Two US senators have requested that the governor of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), Yasir al-Rumayyan, testify in an upcoming hearing about the recent merger between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour, as the Senate seeks to investigate the deal that sent shockwaves throughout the golfing world.

On Wednesday, Senator Richard Blumenthal, who chairs the subcommittee on investigations, and Senator Ron Johnson sent a letter to Rumayyan asking for him to appear at the hearing, which is scheduled for 11 July.

The lawmakers also sent similar letters to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, asking them to respond by 28 June.

If Rumayyan were to testify, it could open the door for American lawmakers to question him on a range of issues from the details of the golf merger to human rights issues in the kingdom and the murder of Saudi dissident and Washington Post and Middle East Eye columnist, Jamal Khashoggi.

"Please be prepared to discuss the circumstances and terms of the planned agreement between PGA Tour and the PIF, how any new entities formed through the planned agreement will be structured, the expected impact on PGA Tour and LIV Golf players, and the anticipated role of the PIF in US professional golf," the letter said.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


LIV Golf is financed by the Saudi Arabia PIF. Critics have accused the fund of being a vehicle for the country to gloss over its reputation in the face of criticism of its human rights record. The merger would also effectively give a foreign country a significant degree of control over the lucrative sport in the US.

It is unclear whether Rumayyan would accept the invitation to testify. 

Saudi golf deal prompts accusations of hypocrisy and betrayal
Read More »

According to a report by The Guardian, Rumayyan was ordered to seize and transfer 20 companies to the sovereign wealth fund in 2017. According to internal Saudi documents filed to a civil court in Canada as part of an unrelated case, a close aide to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Rumayyan to make the transfers. 

The report stated that the charter jet company which was later alleged to have been used in the Saudi plot to kill Khashoggi was one of the companies transferred to the PIF under Rumayyan in 2017.

The documents did not suggest Rumayyan had any involvement in or knowledge of the plot to kill Khashoggi, but the transfer could be brought up in questioning if Rumayyan were to make an appearance at the hearing.

Middle East Eye reached out to the Saudi embassy in Washington for comment on this story but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

'They owe Congress answers'

The PGA Tour and LIV Golf shocked the world of sports and some US policymakers when they announced a partnership that ended a blistering legal dispute between them.

The surprise deal prompted calls from some US lawmakers for the Department of Justice to probe the deal, citing concerns over Saudi Arabia's human rights record and competition in the game of golf.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the Justice Department has notified the PGA Tour that it will be reviewing the deal for antitrust concerns. Monahan, head of the PGA Tour, has previously said the deal didn’t violate antitrust regulations.

Earlier this month, Blumenthal opened a probe into the deal, demanding a trove of documents from the leagues.

“Our goal is to uncover the facts about what went into the PGA Tour’s deal with the Saudi Public Investment Fund and what the Saudi takeover means for the future of this cherished American institution and our national interest,” Blumenthal said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Americans deserve to know what the structure and governance of this new entity will be. Major actors in the deal are best positioned to provide this information, and they owe Congress – and the American people – answers in a public setting.”

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.