Lagarde ‘horrified’ but still to go for controversial trip
NUSA DUA ( Indonesia): IMF chief Christine Lagarde said she was “horrified” by reports about the fate of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi but still plans to attend an economic meeting in Riyadh this month.
As questions swirl over the fate of Khashoggi – a Saudi critic who has not been seen since he walked into the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct 2 – some big business names and media outlets have pulled out of the Kingdom’s second Future Investment Initiative.
But Lagarde said her plans were unchanged for now, despite international uproar over the case.
“Human rights, freedom of information are essential rights and horrifying things have been reported and I am horrified,” she told reporters in Bali where the IMF is holding annual meetings.
“But I have to conduct the business of the IMF in all corners in the world and with many governments. When I visit a country, I always speak my mind ... So at this point of time my intention is to not change my plans and to be very attentive to the information that is coming out in the next few days.”
Her comments came shortly after US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he also still planned to attend the Oct 2325 meeting, dubbed “Davos in the Desert”.
Bloomberg, the Financial Times, The Economist and The New York Times have withdrawn as media sponsors from the event amid questions about the missing man’s fate.
The CEO of ridehailing app Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi, said that he will no longer be attending the event unless “a substantially different set of facts emerges”.
British entrepreneur Richard Branson said he would suspend two directorships linked to tourism projects in Saudi Arabia over the issue.