Saudi fund seeks ‘sovereign immunity’ in PGA Tour battle

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As lawyers for LIV Golf attempt to shed light on the PGA Tour’s organizational structure and financial dealings in an anti-trust lawsuit, the head of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has insisted on the fact that he shouldn’t have to do the same, claiming “sovereign immunity.”

According to a Bloomberg News report, PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan on Tuesday asked a federal judge in California to overturn a request by the PGA Tour to compel their testimony and produce documents for a lawsuit accusing LIV of competition. disloyalty for offering players lucrative offers. break their PGA contracts.

The original lawsuit, which was filed in August by Phil Mickelson and 10 other golfers, has been taken up by LIV Golf, which is under the PIF umbrella.

However, Saudi company officials said they only exercise high-level oversight over LIV Golf and do not handle day-to-day operations. The request also said the move could set a “dangerous precedent” if PIF were to reveal its books, as the company has investments in major corporations like Walmart and Starbucks and could be ripe for similar claims regarding any lawsuits against companies. that she holds.

The wealth fund, which was established in 1971 to enable the Saudi government to invest in various projects and businesses, is currently estimated at $676 billion.

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“Now that LIV (Golf) is involved, there’s no need for me to be involved anymore,” Mickelson said in September when he dropped the suit. doesn’t want or need anything. I think it’s important that players have the right to play when and where they want, when and where they qualify. And now that LIV (Golf) is part of it, that will be accomplished if and when they win. ”

The original lawsuit, obtained by golf weekStates:

“As the Tour’s monopoly power grew, it used its dominance to create an arsenal of anti-competitive restraints to protect its longstanding monopoly. Now, threatened by the entry of LIV Golf, Inc. (“LIV Golf”), and diametrically opposed to its founding mission, the Tour has ventured to harm the careers and livelihoods of all golfers, including plaintiffs Phil Mickelson, Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford , Matt Jones, Bryson DeChambeau, Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz, Ian Poulter, Pat Perez, Jason Kokrak, and Peter Uihlein (“Claimants”), who have the temerity to challenge the Tour and play in tournaments sponsored by the newcomer The Tour did this in an intentional and relentless effort to crush nascent competition before it threatened the Tour’s monopoly.”

The PGA Tour then sent the U.S. District Court in Northern California a 32-page response to the original lawsuit, along with a separate seven-page example of what it calls characterization errors and falsehoods presented by the players. of LIV.

He then added a countersuit in September, seeking damages for trademark and reputational damage.

While LIV alleged that the Tour uses monopoly power and unlawfully suspended players, the Tour’s countersuit claims that LIV uses players, “and the game of golf to wash away the recent history of Saudi atrocities and to advancing the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s Vision 2030 initiatives”.

LIV Golf has long been criticized as a way for the Kingdom to wash away its human rights record with guaranteed money and multi-million dollar deals. Saudi Arabia has been accused of numerous human rights violations, including politically motivated killings, torture, enforced disappearances and inhumane treatment of prisoners. And members of the Saudi royal family and government have been accused of involvement in the murder of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

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