Former U.S. National Intelligence Council Chair Gregory Treverton has written to the U.S. Treasury Department, asking it to stop a consortium that includes India-based SUN Group from buying a controlling stake in Forbes magazine, citing national security concerns. The story was first reported by Politico which also published a copy of Mr Treverton’s letter.
The consortium had already dropped SUN Group as its lead investor, Axios had reported in April. As per that report, the Consortium was concerned about SUN Group’s Vice Chair Shiv Khemka’s links to Russia (and Russian President Vladimir Putin) and the issues that could cause with U.S. regulators. Forbes was hoping to close a deal by end March for $800 million, according to the report.
Mr Treverton, as per the letter posted by Politico, asked a committee overseen by the U.S. Treasury to stop the Forbes acquisition by billionaire and new consortium lead investor Austin Russell, who founded Luminar, which makes technology for self-driving cars. (The Hindu has not independently verified that Mr Treverton wrote the letter).
In the letter, Mr Treverton cites the influence Forbes has on U.S. Millennials and Gen Z voters — and the ability to manipulate views to swing elections, particularly in tightly contested states. He says Mr Russell is only paying $10 million for 82% of Forbes with the rest allegedly coming from larger investors such as Abu Dhabi Capital Group and Sun Group. He also goes on to say, as per this version of the letter, that the Sun Group has links, with the Chinese government, with the Chinese State Council, allegedly owning 70% of a gold mine in Russia , one of Sun Group’s assets. The letter describes possible paths through which the Chinese and Russian governments could exert pressure on the Sun Group and Mr Russell.
In a separate letter, Republican Senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio wrote to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on August 9 asking her to review the proposed acquisition of Forbes.
“The implications of allowing entities close to the Russian government and the CCP to own and operate an influential American media outlet are grave,” the senators tell Ms Yellen in their letter, which was posted on Mr Cotton’s website.