By. George Colli – JULY 27, 2023
Connecticut First Lady Annie Lamont’s venture capital firm OAK HC/FT is secretly partnering with the venture capital arm of the Saudi Royal Family’s sovereign wealth fund, Sanabil Investments.
On the Sanabil Investments website, it shows it is partners with Oak HC/FT, the Greenwich-based health care and financial technologies focused venture capital firm founded by the Connecticut First Lady. The terms of the investment and when the deal was made are undisclosed.
On its website, Sanabil says it is wholly funded by “Saudi Arabia’s massive Public Investment Fund, with $620B in assets under management, is one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world. Its aim is to help diversify the country’s economy away from oil, with investments focused locally and globally. The fund’s venture arm, Sanabil Investments, is ramping up while venture activity as a whole is pulling back. Not only did Sanabil Investments’ deal activity increase last year, but it’s also investing more capital year-over-year — the venture arm now commits roughly $3B a year in capital, up from $2B in 2021. In April 2023, the state oil company Saudi Aramco gave Sanabil a 4% stake, worth almost $80B, to further solidify the venture arm’s position.
The partnership comes at a time when Democrats in Connecticut and across the nation are being highly critical of anyone with business ties to the Saudi Royal family. Annie Lamont’s husband, CT Governor Ned Lamont, made 2022 gubernatorial opponent Bob Stefanowski’s previous consulting contract with the Saudi Arabian government a focal point in commercials and press conferences. It’s what makes the silence from the Lamont administration and apparent CT media blackout on the revelation all the more puzzling.
In 2022, Ned Lamont said Stefanowski’s business dealings “raise serious questions about his judgement,” as reported by CT News Junkie. Lamont also criticized Stefanowski for the consulting gig following the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. “I can see why somebody running for office would want to hide that from the public,” Lamont told Fox61. “Signing a deal with the Saudis right after the assassination of Khashoggi raises questions about judgment.” He went on to say “It sounds like Bob is still on the payroll, at the same time, he’s a candidate for public office.”
Lamont’s office has not replied to any questions concerning the deal with Oak HC/FT that appears to show the Lamont’s on the Saudi payroll WHILE he is in public office. He’s not the only elected CT Democrat to call out Stefanowski when his connections where revealed.
Lamont’s Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz went even further in her criticism. She said Stefanowski’s business past is “very extreme”, adding “Bob Stefanowski is doing business with a group of petro dictators. What Bob doesn’t appear to be working for is the people of Connecticut,” as reported by Fox 61 News.
Democratic State Senator Matt Lesser from Middletown said in the same Fox 61 News report saying, “There’s been a real lack of candor, a real lack of disclosure and I think that should raise real questions in the eyes of any Connecticut voter.”
Neither Lesser nor Bysiewicz have responded to repeated questions on social media about the Lamont secret deal.
Senator Richard Blumenthal held congressional hearings this month focused on the PGA Tour-Liv Golf partnership. LIV Golf is financed by the Saudi Royal Family and in the hearing Blumenthal said, “You still have the choice to stand up against sportswashing, against the Saudi monarchy, against the hundreds of billions of dollars, and maybe more, that the Saudis will throw at you and stand up for America,” He also said in the hearing, “Today’s hearing is about much more than the game of golf. It’s about how a brutal, repressive regime can buy influence — indeed even take over — a cherished American institution simply to cleanse its public image.”
Blumenthal has not replied to repeated calls for comment on social media.
9/11 families have been the most vocal critics of the Saudi Arabian government. 161 Connecticut residents were killed in the terror attacks. 15 of the 19 terrorists hailed from Saudi Arabia. Last week, the Pennsylvania Democratic State Central Committee put out a video criticizing former PA GOP gubernatorial candidate and Bridgewater Associates exec David McCormick for his dealings with the Saudi royal sovereign wealth fund.
Blumenthal is not Connecticut’s only US Senator to be highly critical of any dealings with Saudi Arabia. Sen. Chris Murphy called on the US military to freeze any funding to the Saudis. He also put forward a resolution to require the U.S. Department of State to examine and report on Saudi Arabia’s domestic human rights practices and its involvement in the war in Yemen.
Murphy has not commented on Lamont’s dealings.
It’s a similar tone taken by CT US Rep. Jim Himes in an October 2022 article in Hearst newspapers. Himes said “This is a brutal murderous regime and regardless of what they may or may not do to assist us with counterterrorism efforts, its time to cut ties. In that moment, Bob Stefanowski made a different decision. He said it’s time to go work with this guy.”
Himes has not commented on the partnership with the CT First Lady.
CT GOP Chairman Ben Proto put out a statement on Monday: “Connecticut voters not only want answers, but are entitled to answers as to the ethics of the Lamonts’ business dealings and corruption in this administration. There seems to be no repercussions here for the Lamonts or Democrats, from the appropriate authorities, from the press, or from within the Democrat Party, all of whom should have been and should be continuing to press Governor Lamont for answers.”
No other CT GOP officials or elected officials have commented. When asked by WDRC Talk of Connecticut radio host Gary Byron for comment on Thursday, House Minority Leader Vin Candelora said he hadn’t heard of the deal yet.
It’s not just politicans that are hiding from this story. After being exposed 8 days ago on The Connecticut Capitalist, not a single newspaper or television station in Connecticut has reported the story.
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