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Hedge fund spurns $300 million from Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi's murder

A hedge fund has told investors it returned money to Saudi Arabia [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 March, 2019

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A hedge fund has returned cash from Saudi Arabia over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

A hedge fund has told investors it returned money to Saudi Arabia following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to media reports.

Pharo Management (UK) LLP in December reportedly returned approximately $300 million that it had previously managed for the central bank's Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA).

Pharo Management's founder Guillaume Fonkenell told investors in early 2019 that the decision was taken due to concerns about Khashoggi's death allegedly at the hands of government agents in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018.

The decision underscore piling concerns about Saudi Arabia's human rights record under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose ambitious plans for modernising the kingdom and redeveloping economy have been sullied by human rights abuses allegations.

Bin Salman, who is accused of being the architect of the assassination of Khashoggi - allegations which the crown prince denies - still has President Donald Trump's support and most US firms, despite widespread condemnation of the murder.

A number of nations have chosen to continue doing business with the wealthy kingdom as well.

Saudi Arabia's state-owned investment firms, one of the biggest sources of capital, are a magnate for asset managers worldwide.

However, many businesses and individuals pulled out of the prince's flagship investment event in October 2018, including JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s Jamie Dimon, BlackRock Inc's Larry Fink and Winton Group founder David Harding.

This was overshadowed when less-senior executives took part in the conference.

Fink, who runs the world's largest asset management company, said in November that he wasn't "ashamed" of doing business in Saudi Arabia and expects to continue to invest in the Arabian country.

"Keep in mind, it is a big country. There are many fine people in country, like there are many fine people in every country," he said.

Unlike this cynical view on the part of Fink and others, some companies have attempted to penalise Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi's murder.

British billionaire Richard Branson suspended talks with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund following the first media reports about the journalist's disappearance.

"What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi government," he said.

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