Following weeks of legal debate about foreign sovereignty and the nuances of U.S. law, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia joined the fray with a friend-of-the-court brief and a breakdown of Saudi law that promises to complicate the PGA Tour’s counterclaim against the country’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).
The PIF and its governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, have argued that they are nothing more than investors in LIV Golf, which filed an antitrust lawsuit against the Tour last year. Lawyers for the Tour claim the Fund and Al-Rumayyan are deeply involved in the day-to-day operations of LIV and, therefore, must submit to U.S. jurisdiction. A judge agreed with the Tour’s assessment and granted a motion to add PIF, which owns 93 percent of LIV Golf, and Al-Rumayyan as defendants in the counterclaim, making them both subject to discovery.
Lawyers representing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia argued in a brief filed Tuesday that PIF and Al-Rumayyan are immune from U.S. jurisdiction and that forcing a government official, like Al-Rumayyan, to be deposed violates Saudi law.
According to the brief, Al-Rumayyan is one of six PIF board members who are also members of the Council of Ministers and subordinate only to the king. Lawyers for the Kingdom also pointed out that disclosure of council deliberations is a violation of Saudi law and punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine that could reach $266,000.
On Wednesday, the summons adding PIF and Al-Rumayyan as defendants were filed with the court. Once the service is complete, adding the fund to the countersuit, the PIF will likely file a motion to dismiss on various grounds.