Revealed: Newcastle chairman’s hyperlinks to Saudi ‘anti-corruption’ drive | Saudi Arabia

Yasir al-Rumayyan, the brand new non-executive chairman of Newcastle United, was concerned in a controversial “anti-corruption” marketing campaign in Saudi Arabia that included the switch of belongings on behalf of the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

Particulars of Rumayyan’s function – together with the switch of a constitution jet firm to the Public Funding Fund (PIF), the place he serves as governor – are contained in courtroom paperwork that make clear his relationship with Prince Mohammed.

The interior workings of the PIF have been a supply of intense curiosity after it led a consortium that acquired Newcastle United this month. The state-owned sovereign wealth fund is run by Rumayyan and chaired by the crown prince.

The Saudi-led consortium withdrew its bid to accumulate Newcastle in 2020 amid issues that the PIF was half the Saudi state. However the Premier League authorised the deal this month and mentioned it had been given “legally binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not going to management” the membership. The Premier League has not disclosed the character of the assurances.

Inside Saudi paperwork filed to a civil courtroom in Canada as a part of an unrelated case present that in 2017 a detailed aide to Prince Mohammed ordered Rumayyan – who’s formally referred to in memos as “his excellency” and the “supervisor” of the PIF – to switch 20 corporations to the sovereign wealth fund as a part of the anti-corruption marketing campaign.

One among 20 seized corporations, the paperwork present, was a constitution jet firm that was later alleged to have been used within the Saudi plot to kill Jamal Khashoggi. US intelligence businesses concluded in an intelligence report that was declassified in February that Prince Mohammed authorised Khashoggi’s ugly homicide.

There isn’t a suggestion that Rumayyan had any involvement in or information of the alleged use of the jets within the operation that killed the Washington Publish journalist.

The paperwork counsel, nevertheless, {that a} senior aide to the crown prince was capable of order Rumayyan to take actions associated to the PIF on Prince Mohammed’s behalf. The PIF declined to remark. A spokesperson for the Saudi embassy in Washington didn’t return a request for remark.

Rumayyan is a former banker who serves as governor of the PIF and chairman of the oil agency Saudi Aramco. He has overseen billions of {dollars} in funding by the PIF, together with in Uber, Fb, Disney and Citibank.

The Harvard Enterprise Faculty-educated govt is reportedly on account of attend his first Newcastle match on Sunday in his new function as non-executive chairman of the membership.

The inner Saudi paperwork have been filed in a Canadian courtroom as a part of a civil case that has been introduced by Saudi-owned entities in opposition to a former senior Saudi intelligence official, Saad Aljabri, a critic of Prince Mohammed who in flip has accused the Saudi authorities of making an attempt to assassinate him in Canada. The Saudi authorities has denied the claims.

The courtroom data embody copies of memos that have been despatched to his “excellency the supervisor of the Public Funding Fund” by Mohammad al-Sheikh, a senior Saudi adviser to Prince Mohammed.

They relate to the notorious anti-corruption marketing campaign led by the crown prince from November 2017, when 400 of Saudi Arabia’s richest people – together with princes and ministers – have been rounded up and held on the Ritz-Carlton resort in Riyadh in what was later condemned by witnesses and critics as a purge involving torture, coercion and the expropriation of billions in belongings into Saudi coffers.

Mohammad al-Sheikh, the shut adviser to the crown prince, defended the marketing campaign in a 2018 interview on CBS. “The anti-corruption crackdown was quite simple. We had a significant issue with corruption,” he mentioned. “We needed to do what we did on the Ritz.”

The memos are labelled “high secret, not for circulation and really pressing”. The primary memo, despatched on 22 December 2017, calls on Rumayyan to “switch” quite a lot of corporations to the PIF’s possession that have been seized as a part of the anti-corruption purge.

The second memo, dated two days later, repeats the order with larger urgency and tells Rumayyan to “instantly approve the completion of the required procedures”.

Saudi paperwork filed to the courtroom present that in response, Rumayyan despatched a handwritten and signed memo on 26 December 2017 to an affiliate ordering him to “do what’s needed as quick as attainable” to adjust to the order. Among the many 20 corporations included on an inventory to be transferred to the PIF was Sky Prime Aviation Companies, a constitution jet firm primarily based in Riyadh.

The identify of the constitution jet firm resurfaced in 2019 in a report by Agnes Callamard, the previous UN particular rapporteur who investigated the Khashoggi killing. She concluded that the workforce of Saudi brokers who killed the journalist used two jets operated by Sky Prime Aviation to journey to and from Istanbul earlier than the homicide within the Saudi consulate on October 2018.

CNN first reported in February 2021 that courtroom paperwork confirmed that the 2 non-public jets utilized by the Saudi assassination squad have been owned by an organization that had beforehand been seized by Prince Mohammed. However different particulars from the courtroom paperwork referring to Rumayyan’s function in PIF’s acquisition of the constitution jet agency and different corporations haven’t beforehand been reported.

The PIF declined to answer a request for remark from Rumayyan and didn’t reply to a query concerning the management of Sky Prime Aviation Companies. The Saudi embassy in Washington and the Premier League additionally declined to remark.

Obsessive, illuminating, high-stakes: why investigative journalism matters - video
Obsessive, illuminating, high-stakes: why investigative journalism issues – video

Rumayyan has prior to now described the abrupt method during which he was chosen by the crown prince to steer the PIF as governor in 2015. “I obtained a name … The crown prince heard of me. I received the decision. I believed it was an interview [to lead the PIF], but it surely was, like: ‘Here’s what I would like you to do. One, two, three,’” Rumayyan mentioned in a 2020 interview with the Carlyle Group chief govt, David Rubenstein.

After Rumayyan initially mentioned he may begin the job in three months, the crown prince instructed him he had “one month, and you’ll do it”. Per week later Prince Mohammed referred to as again and instructed Rumayyan he was beginning “instantly”.

“We’re all very proud to be Saudis and to take part within the optimistic adjustments the nation resides and doing proper now,” Rumayyan mentioned within the Rubenstein interview.

Do you could have details about this story? E mail stephanie.kirchgaessner@theguardian.com, or (utilizing a non-work cellphone) use Sign or WhatsApp to message +1 646 886 8761

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