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Jared Kushner flaunted influence with Saudi Arabia in investor pitch, says report

Former White House adviser cites role in negotiating an oil production cut and normalisation deals signed between Israel and four Arab countries
Jared Kusher developed a close relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman when he worked at the White House.
Jared Kusher developed a close relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman when he worked at the White House (AFP/File photo)

Jared Kushner, a former senior White House adviser and son-in-law of former US President Donald Trump, is touting his past work with Saudi Arabia as an asset for investors in his new investment fund, The Intercept reported on Tuesday.

The Intercept obtained a slide deck from Kushner's firm Affinity Partners that pitches Kushner's experience securing deals with the governments of Russia and Saudi Arabia as something that should give investors confidence that their money will be well spent.

In particular, the slide deck touts Kushner's role in negotiating an oil production cut with those two nations in the spring of 2020, in a bid to stabilise rapidly collapsing oil prices at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The investor pitch also advertises his involvement in the normalisation agreements signed between Israel and four Arab countries - the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco.

"Affinity's unique network and experience makes us a differentiated partner for companies navigating the rapidly evolving global political and economic environment," reads one slide obtained by The Intercept.

Six months after leaving the Trump administration, Kushner secured a $2bn investment from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, led by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a close ally and beneficiary of Kushner's support when he worked at the White House.

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But a recent article published by The New York Times reported that a panel that screens investments for the $620bn Public Investment Fund (PIF) cited a number of concerns with Kushner's Affinity Partners, including its "inexperience" and the “public relations risks” arising from Kushner’s previous role as a senior adviser to Trump.

Despite the objections, the full board of the PIF overruled the panel's objections.

A spokesperson defended Kushner's dealings with Riyadh, saying his "record in government was unprecedented".

"His leadership and efforts led to the historic Abraham Accords, the [US–Mexico–Canada Agreement] which was the largest trade deal in history, life-changing criminal justice reform, Operation Warp Speed among many other achievements," the spokesperson told The Intercept.

Kushner has developed a close relationship with several senior figures throughout the Middle East including bin Salman, also known by his initials MBS, with whom he has been engaging with for years through emails, text messages, and other forms of contact, according to a report by The New York Times.

During his time in the Trump administration, the Saudi royal family gifted him two swords and a dagger worth nearly $48,000, for which he ended up paying the US government after leaving office.

Last year, he founded the Abraham Accords Institute for Peace, which will focus on boosting trade and tourism between the four Arab states and Israel.

During their time in office, both Kushner and Mnuchin travelled to attend Saudi Arabia's Future Investment Initiative in 2019, just one year after a number of businesses and politicians boycotted the event over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.