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Big European banks pull out of Saudi conference over journalist's disappearance

The CEOs of HSBC Holdings PLC, Standard Chartered PLC, Credit Suisse Group AG, Société Générale SA and London Stock Exchange Group PLC and the chairman of BNP Paribas SA will no longer attend an investment conference in Saudi Arabia following the disappearance of a journalist from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, according to two Reuters reports.

Their withdrawal from the Future Investment Initiative, dubbed "Davos in the Desert" comes as The City of London Corp.'s chairman for policy and resources, Catherine McGuinness, also withdrew from the event. U.S. executives, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon, have also canceled their participation in the investment activities, Reuters noted, and IMF chief Christine Lagarde withdrew Oct. 17, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Turkey believes that U.S.-based Jamal Khashoggi, who was a critic of Saudi Arabia's crown prince, was killed at the consulate and his body was removed afterward. Saudi Arabia has denied the accusation.

Some media and technology industry executives have also withdrawn from the Saudi event. Despite the withdrawals, the Saudi conference has not been canceled, Reuters said, noting that Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have yet to comment on their change of plan if any.

Goldman still plans to send two executives to the conference, a person close to the matter told Financial News, while Citi declined to comment on whether two of its executives will attend. Neither bank's CEO is among the planned attendees, according to the report.