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Ex-McKinsey Exec Held by Saudis Has Been Beaten: Report

Was Hani Khoja swept up in crackdown due to corruption or as political purge by crown prince?
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2018 9:15 AM CST
In this Dec. 1, 2018, file photo, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.   (G20 Press Office via AP, File)

(Newser) – Hani Khoja abruptly stopped posting to social media in the fall of 2017, with one of his last Instagram posts showing him at a Yankees game with his kids. The Wall Street Journal is now reporting on what apparently happened to the Saudi entrepreneur and former executive at US consulting firm McKinsey & Co., and it's sobering. Sources tell the paper that Khoja, co-founder of a consultancy called Elixir Creative Solutions, was arrested around Nov. 2, 2017, by Saudi officials in a supposed corruption crackdown, and he's been held in detention ever since. He has also been beaten over and over, the sources say, along with women's rights activists who are also being held and tortured in captivity—and some say all of this has little to do with corruption and everything to do with the government's attempts to quash criticism of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Khoja's personal ties to the crown prince are murky, but McKinsey purchased Elixir in 2017, partly due to the work it did for the Saudi Ministry of Economy and Planning. McKinsey, which has been embedded in Saudi Arabia for 40 years or so, is notorious for hiring relatives of high-ranking Saudi officials. However, Khoja's apparent detention, as well as other incidents in Saudi Arabia like the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, is forcing McKinsey and other companies with ties there to rethink whether they want to remain in the kingdom. In the meantime, McKinsey, which notes without elaboration that Khoja is no longer an employee but continues to get paid under his contract, says it doesn't know where he is. "We have sought information from the authorities," a company rep says in an email sent to the Journal. Click to read the full story. (Read more Saudi Arabia stories.)

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