Six months isn't a very long time. It would seem ample
time, however, for the world to forget about Saudi Arabia's
alleged role in the death of Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist
and government critic killed in the consulate in Istanbul last
After Khashoggi was murdered, unconfirmed reports suggested
that foul play within the Saudi government had led to the
dissident's death. The US and other global players condemned
the move, and took steps to blacklist a number of Saudi
nationals for their involvement. In February, the EU went as
far as to add Saudi Arabia to its dirty money list which,
although not explicitly defined as a list of countries under
sanction, does suggest that authorities consider the country a
risk to the financial health of the union.
The problem is, the case has not been solved, and the
country has made little effort to deny government involvement.
Yet the world has moved on – with aplomb.
In early April, Saudi Arabia took a major step onto the
global financial stage to fund the aspirations of its crown
prince, issuing an enormous $12 billion worth of bonds for its
state-run oil company Aramco, in what was one of the most
oversubscribed debt offerings in history.
Reports suggest that demand for the bond was as high as $100
billion: more than eight times what was actually issued. This
allowed Aramco to price the bond at a lower yield than the $7.5
billion sovereign bond the government itself issued in
The deal's oversubscription shows the short attention span
of some. Although a quick selloff in the days following the
issuance did occur – suggesting the order book is
perhaps not to be fully trusted – that so many can
swerve so quickly shows where the real fidelities lie.
It is a largely unsurprising but nonetheless uncomfortable
truth that the death of an outspoken journalist within the
confines of a consulate doesn't draw the ire of the global
community for longer than three months. In addition, the lack
of government-imposed sanctions from any global superpower
– especially the US – means that legally,
such investors are doing nothing wrong.
The simple fact is that money talks, and when it does, those
best-positioned to profit are occasionally inclined to put
principles to one side and listen. That being said, should this
decision fall on the shoulders of the banking sector? Should
the US government, the United Nations and other global
influencers be doing more to prevent this sort of malfeasance
from going on unperturbed? Someone probably should.