SoftBank's deep ties with Saudi Arabia are making investors nervous

Jamal Khashoggi

Jamal Khashoggi

"It is expected that examinations will be carried out this afternoon", the source said on Monday. Earlier this month, Saudi Crown Price Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg that the country's Public Investment Fund would contribute US$45 billion to the second Vision Fund. Claure declined to comment to reporters on whether SoftBank would accept the capital if it were offered.

That a landmark event which will see senior figures from the ruling class of the nation mingle with multinational corporations and figures from the finance world with a view to accelerating investment in the country, but has hit trouble after a diplomatic crisis over the disappearance of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last week.

US President Donald Trump said on Saturday there would be "severe punishment" for Saudi Arabia if it turned out that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate. "There needs to be a credible investigation to establish the truth about what happened, and - if relevant - to identify those bearing responsibility for the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, and ensure that they are held to account", the statement said.

The Saudi consulate referred Reuters to authorities in Riyadh who did not respond to questions about the 15 Saudis.

Several individuals and major businesses have distanced themselves from Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, further isolating the Middle East powerhouse that vehemently denies involvement in Khashoggi's alleged murder.

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In a column published just after the SPA statement, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya channel's general manager Turki Aldakhil warned that imposing sanctions on the world's largest oil exporter could spark global economic disaster. At least some of them appear to have high-level connections in the Saudi government.

Saudi Arabia, which provided much of the funding for the SoftBank Vision Fund, is seeing a growing number of attendees pull out of the "Davos in the Desert" investment conference after the disappearance of a prominent Saudi journalist. According to Turkey, he was then tortured, killed and dismembered.

But the president has also said "we would be punishing ourselves" by cancelling arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Turkey says it believes he was killed inside, telling United States officials that it has audio and video recordings from his final moments to prove it. Saudi Arabia has vehemently denied having anything to do with the disappearance.

Still, regional traders said speculation the Khashoggi case might deter some inflows of foreign investment - and that a backlash in the US Congress could lead to US sanctions against some Saudi individuals - had triggered panic selling of stocks by some local investors.

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