As a Congressional probe into LIV Golf and the Saudi Arabia-backed Public Investment Fund (PIF) continues to press for testimony from the fund’s governor, a high-powered Washington D.C. lobbying firm has been retained to help shield Yasir Al-Rumayyan from having to speak publicly.
According to Politico, Akin Gump Strauss & Feld has been retained by PIF as the sovereign fund pushes back against the probe, insisting that some of the inquiry is subject to immunity.
In June, PGA Tour Chief Operating Officer Ron Price and board member Jimmy Dunne were sworn in at a Senate subcommittee hearing in Washington D.C. to discuss the proposed deal between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and PIF.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is the chairman of the committee and has been publicly critical of the deal, which is expected to unite the two once-warring factions in golf under the same commercial umbrella.
According to Politico, a representative of Akin Gump said Al-Rumayyan should not be forced to take part in any future hearings.
Raphael Prober, a lawyer at the firm, wrote to Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on behalf of the Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), arguing that the governor of the fund “cannot participate in any public hearing that is part of an unbounded inquiry into the PIF’s past, present, and future interests and investments.”
Blumenthal, who chairs the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, has requested testimony from PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan since June.
“An unprecedented effort by the Subcommittee to compel [Al-Rumayyan’s] appearance and testimony would not only disrupt the delicate balance of foreign relations and international diplomacy, but would also compromise the prerogatives of the Executive Branch,” Prober wrote in the letter.
Prober, a partner at Akin Gump, co-heads the firm’s congressional investigations division.
His letter, dated Aug. 23 but filed with the Justice Department on Aug. 30, is the latest volley in PIF’s back-and-forth with Blumenthal’s subcommittee over Al-Rumayyan’s potential testimony, as part of an inquiry into the wealth fund’s U.S. investments. The subcommittee launched a probe after the announcement in June that the PIF-financed LIV Golf league and PGA Tour planned to join forces after months of bitter infighting between the two ventures.
LIV Golf Series CEO Greg Norman stands with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, at the LIV Golf Series Invitational event in Chicago on Sept. 18, 2022, Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois. (Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press)
According to previous reporting, the Tour sent a six-page document to the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, previous to the hearing that outlined the potential framework of the deal. here are some of the main points of the deal:
LIV Golf’s future will be decided by the new entity’s board that will be controlled by a Tour majority.
A “Communications Committee” will be created that will “help facilitate a smooth business transition” and “coordinate and manage communications” between PIF, LIV and the PGA Tour.
The PIF will be “a premier corporate sponsor” of the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and other international tours, and will be a title sponsor for at least one event.
More from the agreement to create a new global golf entity, which they reference as “NewCo:”