SoftBank's Masayoshi Son says he wants to keep working with the Saudi government, despite the Khashoggi killing, in order to continue to bring the benefits AI 'to the people'

Masayoshi Son

SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son said the killing of a Washington Post journalist in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul was not something he has any inside knowledge about and stressed that his company’s efforts to develop artificial-intelligence technology with money from the Saudi government would not be affected by the matter, according to a report by Axios on Wednesday.

During an earnings call to discuss SoftBank Group’s second-quarter financial results, Son was asked about the death of Jamal Khashoggi in relation to the Saudi sovereign-wealth fund’s interest in backing Vision Fund 2, a $108 billion fund that will invest in technology startups, Axios said.

“[I’m] not in a position to know all the details of the incident,” Son said, according to Axios. “And, on the other hand, we have to continue with the efforts of AI and the technological evolution to bring benefits to the people, and we are going to make steady steps to achieve that goal.”

Son then said he would not make any further comments on the topic, according to Axios. A SoftBank representative did not immediately return Business Insider’s request for comment.

The Saudi sovereign-wealth fund was a large contributor to SoftBank’s first Vision Fund, one of the biggest investors in Silicon Valley tech startups. But the Saudi fund was not listed as one of the confirmed backers for Vision Fund 2, which is topping out at around $108 billion in existing commitments. Son confirmed on the call that he was still in talks with the Saudi fund to back Vision Fund 2.

Read more: Former top Twitter execs Dick Costolo and Adam Bain announce 01 Advisors, a new venture capital firm with at least $135 million to put into startups

The Saudi government is widely believed to have directed the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October as retaliation for his critical views of the regime. The Saudi government has said that Khashoggi was killed in a “rogue” operation.

As the revelations have come to light, many companies and investment firms have sought to distance themselves from the Saudi regime or have committed to returning or declining future investment.

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