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US lawmakers are questioning McKinsey and other US companies about Saudi relations

US lawmakers are questioning McKinsey and other US companies about Saudi relations

McKinsey & Co. Global Managing Partner Bob Sternfels testifies before Congress.
Screenshot from C-SPAN

  • Leaders at McKinsey and others Major consulting firms He testified before Congress this week.
  • US lawmakers questioned the executives about their work in Saudi Arabia.
  • “We are between a rock and a hard place,” said Bob Sternfels, a McKinsey partner.

The US Congress this week questioned the loyalties of some of the country's largest consulting firms.

US consulting firms, such as McKinsey & Co., BCG, Tino, and M. Klein & Co., are helping Saudi Arabia diversify its oil-dependent economy through a lucrative public investment fund. They also advise the Fund on its dealings with the United States.

This fund is worth about $700 billion, and is perhaps best known for trying to invest in sports leagues such as PGA Tour golf and buying large stakes in several Saudi soccer teams, including Al-Nasr (which includes star players such as Cristiano Ronaldo). The Saudi Public Investment Fund also supports a range of ambitious development projects under a government initiative known as Vision 2030.

However, Saudi Arabia has imposed strict rules on what information US consulting firms can share with the US government, which has drawn the ire of some US lawmakers.

So much so that Congress forced the CEOs of McKinsey, BCG, Tino, M. Klein & Co. to testify this week about their failure to comply with subpoenas related to their companies' work with the United States. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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“The records sought by these subpoenas are essential to the ongoing investigation of efforts by authoritarian governments, such as Saudi Arabia, to deploy soft power or use other influence strategies within the United States, including the Public Investment Fund’s use of investments in U.S. entities and cultural institutions to Exercising influence,” Senator. Richard Blumenthal, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, said in a statement before the hearing.

Bob Sternfels, global managing partner at McKinsey, said at Tuesday's hearing that his company was “between a rock and a hard place.”

Rich Lesser, global president of Boston Consulting Group, described the tension as “an unprecedented dispute in which the Senate subpoena directly conflicts with the laws of another country that considers the information classified.”

Lawmakers argued that the companies were Helping the Saudi government exercise its influence over the United States.

Blumenthal responded: “You say you are between a rock and a hard place, but you chose sides; you chose the Saudi side, not the American side.”

Michael Klein, managing partner of M. Klein & Co., said their employees could face serious penalties — including up to 20 years in prison — for violating Saudi law. But that did not receive much sympathy from US lawmakers.

“Would you not consider doing business with a client, or a country, that says it will put your employees in prison for complying with American law?” Blumenthal asks.

executive managers They told lawmakers they are fighting the restrictions in Saudi courts and urging the Public Investment Fund to remove them It imposes limits on the information that companies can share with the United States.

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A McKinsey spokesperson noted that the company has already provided more than 4,000 pages of documents in compliance with the subpoena and directed Business Insider to Sternfels' written testimony.

BCG, Teneo and M did not respond. Klein & Co. To request comment from Business Insider.

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