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McKinsey’s loyalty to its brutal clients

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Saudi Arabian officials arrested a partner at consulting giant McKinsey & Co. in the fall of 2017 and have been holding him in detention since then, people familiar with the matter say. In recent months, he has been repeatedly beaten, two of those people said.

A McKinsey spokesman said that as of early this year the consultant, Hani Khoja, is no longer a McKinsey employee.

Few companies are as involved with the Saudi state as McKinsey, which has been working for the country for four decades. The firm has advised Prince Mohammed on some of his reform efforts and the Ministry of Economy and Planning, which has a large role, became known within the Saudi government as the “Ministry of McKinsey” for the number of foreign consultants working in its offices.

Mr. Khoja was arrested some time around Nov. 2, 2017, in part of what the Saudis said was a corruption crackdown but that some within the government have called a political purge by the crown prince.

Detainees including Mr. Khoja were initially held at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel. Some were released after paying fines or relinquishing assets to the government, while others like Mr. Khoja were moved to detention centers where certain prisoners—including some human-rights advocates—have been beaten in recent months, the Journal reported in November.

A spokesman for McKinsey said the firm doesn’t know where Mr. Khoja is and hadn’t been told that he was physically abused. “We have sought information from the authorities. We are anxious to know more and are in regular touch with Mr. Khoja’s family,” the spokesman wrote in an email. [Continue reading…]

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