Fink Calls Khashoggi Murder a Mystery, Will Keep Saudi Ties

(Bloomberg) -- BlackRock Inc. Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink struck a supportive tone on crisis-torn Saudi Arabia Thursday, saying that he expects to continue to invest in the country and that it’s unclear who killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“We don’t know who is responsible for the murder, as a government they took the responsibility that it was a murder, they are now claiming that it was a heinous act,” Fink said at the New York Times DealBook conference. “Everybody has their own theories.” He didn’t elaborate, but stressed that “nothing is black or white.” Brian Beades, a BlackRock spokesman, declined further comment.

The fallout from Khashoggi’s killing sparked an international crisis as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is seeking move the country away from oil dependency and garner more investment from abroad. The prince has denied any involvement, calling it a “heinous crime that cannot be justified.”

Turkish prosecutors have said that the Washington Post columnist was strangled soon after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month and his body was dismembered in a premeditated hit.

Fink, who runs the world’s largest asset manager, said at the conference that doing business in Saudi Arabia is “not something I’m ashamed of.” He added, “We have not lost any business there,” noting that BlackRock has worked in the kingdom for 15 years.

Fink was among many U.S. executives who pulled out of a Saudi investment conference last month after the disappearance of Khashoggi.

On Thursday in New York, Fink spoke on a range of issues including his firm’s effort to hold companies accountable for their social and environmental impact. He said he thinks the U.S. and China are heading for a “full-fledged” trade war. Fink added that disrupting relations with China could be fraught, as the country is the largest foreign creditor to the U.S.

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