UK trade secretary Liam Fox says he will not attend the Saudi Arabian conference. Picture: REUTERS
UK trade secretary Liam Fox says he will not attend the Saudi Arabian conference. Picture: REUTERS

Dubai — Three European government ministers on Thursday joined an array of corporate chiefs in pulling out of a coming investment conference in Saudi Arabia, following the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Company leaders risk losing lucrative business with the kingdom by shunning the conference, and countries such as the US, Britain and France have several defence deals at stake. But Turkish claims — denied by Riyadh — that Khashoggi was killed by a hit squad in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 have put them in an awkward spot.

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has already withdrawn from the Future Investment Initiative taking place on October 23-25 in Riyadh, which is billed as a showcase for the economic reforms of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The conference’s website previously featured a star-studded list of speakers. But that has been removed amid the steady flow of defections.

Here is an updated list of no-shows:

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire

British International Trade Secretary Liam Fox

Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra

HSBC chief executive John Flint

Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam

MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga (HSBC, Credit Suisse and MasterCard are listed among the eight “strategic partners” of the conference. Another is Siemens, whose boss Joe Kaeser says he is still mulling whether to come.)

 BNP Paribas chairman Jean Lemierre

Societe Generale CEO Frederic Oudea

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon

BlackRock chief Larry Fink

Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman

Standard Chartered CEO Bill Winters

London Stock Exchange CEO David Schwimmer

Ford chairman Bill Ford

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi

British billionaire Richard Branson

Thrive CEO Ariana Huffington

Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish.

In addition, multiple media groups have withdrawn executives or journalists who were due to take part in the conference, including CNN, Bloomberg, The Economist, The New York Times, CNBC and the Financial Times.

AFP