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Report: Head of LIV Golf accused of campaign involving 'wrongful kidnapping and detention'

January 16, 2024
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Rob Carr

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, head of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and the de facto head of LIV Golf, has been accused of “having carried out the instructions” of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with “malicious intent” according to a lawsuit filed in Canada. The story was first reported by the Athletic.

Dr. Saad Aljabri, a former intelligence officer with the country who fled and has since defected to Canada, is attempting to bring the suit regarding the treatment of his family. Two of his children were arrested in 2020 for “security reasons” before both were scheduled to continue their education in the United States. Aljabri’s son, Omar, received a nine-year sentence while Aljabri’s daughter, Sarah, is serving a sentence of just under seven years; neither had the chance to be present for their trial or to cross-examine witnesses. The family has had no contact with their children since their imprisonment.

According to the suit, Aljabri accuses Al-Rumayyan of direct involvement in a number of allegations. “These include taking steps to orchestrate an alleged campaign which include ‘wrongful kidnapping and detention,’ ‘misappropriation of property’ and the ‘expropriation’ of companies worth hundreds of millions of dollars into PIF hands,” according to The Athletic. The outlet also reports that Al-Rumayyan took steps to bring the criminal proceedings against the Aljabri children as punishment for Dr. Aljabri’s defection.

Al-Rumayyan is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s inner circle and considered the mastermind of the Golf Saudi and LIV Golf projects. It was Al-Rumayyan who brokered a framework agreement with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and board members Jimmy Dunne and Ed Herlihy, a deal that paused a contentious yearlong battle in the professional game and ended litigation between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour. He also appeared with Monahan on CNBC in a televised interview to announce the proposed deal.

Al-Rumayyan has argued in previous cases that he is protected by sovereign immunity laws because his conduct “falls within the commercial activity exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act." However, earlier this year a federal magistrate judge rejected that assertion.

News of the lawsuit comes as the PGA Tour and PIF attempt to finish a deal before April. Though the PGA Tour maintains it controls LIV Golf’s destiny as part of the proposed deal, Al-Rumayyan has asserted to LIV Golf members and staff that the league will continue, and documents released by Congress contain language in the framework agreement that may give Al-Rumayyan final say over the matter. Al-Rumayyan is also expected to be the chairman of the new for-profit entity created by PIF, the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.