US treasury chief pulls out of Saudi investor summit

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

By Umar Farooq 


U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday dropped out of Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative over concerns about missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Just met with @realDonaldTrump and @SecPompeo and we have decided, I will not be participating in the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia,” Mnuchin said on Twitter.

Mnuchin has joined an increasing number of prominent names in business and finance who have dropped out of the summit, including IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox, and French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.

The conference, nicknamed Davos in the Desert and slated to run Oct. 23 – 25, is Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s attempt to diversify the country’s oil-based economy.

His plans, however, have become disrupted as the list of pullouts continues to grow amid growing global concerns about Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Khashoggi, a Saudi national and columnist for The Washington Post, was last seen Oct. 2 when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and evidence is mounting that he was killed.

Saudi authorities have yet to give a clear explanation of Khashoggi’s fate, while several countries — particularly Turkey, the U.S. and the UK — have expressed their desire that the matter should be elucidated as soon as possible.

The New York Times, CNN and CNBC networks have also announced they would not sponsor the conference. Saudi Arabia, however, has made no plans to cancel the event.