McKinsey & Co. has been paid millions of dollars in recent years to advise Saudi Arabia’s government on how to diversify its oil-dependent economy and other matters. Over the same period, the global consultancy hired several relatives of high-ranking Saudi officials, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The consulting company has employed at least eight relatives of Saudi officials, among them at least two children of Khalid al-Falih, the energy minister and chairman of state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co.

Mr. Falih’s son, Abdulaziz, still works for the firm; when he was hired in 2015 his father told associates that he had nothing to do with his son getting the job, according to people close to him.

Abdulaziz Alfalih referred questions about his employment to McKinsey. His father didn’t respond to questions.

“The hiring of officials’ relatives in other countries has drawn scrutiny from U.S. authorities in the past. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. last year paid $264 million in criminal and civil settlements of federal claims, brought under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, that it hired unqualified relatives of Chinese officials to get business.

A Justice Department official at the time called the hiring program ‘nothing more than bribery by another name,” write Justin Scheck, Bradley Hope and Summer Said.

McKinsey pushed back against any appearance of impropriety. “McKinsey is a meritocracy,” the company said.


Oil prices consolidated gains on Friday having soared over the past week on rising tensions in the Middle East.

Oil prices received a boost after top exporter Saudi Arabia detained hundreds of individuals in a corruption investigation and after rising tension between the kingdom and Iran.

Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, rose 0.3% to $64.12 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures exchange. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures were up 0.1% at $57.21 a barrel.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration is wrestling with how closely it should align its policies with longtime ally Saudi Arabia and how forcefully to confront Iran as strains worsen between the two Middle East rivals.

“Some at the State Department and in the U.S. military have raised concerns about taking steps that could antagonize Iran, while others at the White House and National Security Council have argued for tougher steps,” writes Dion Nissenbaum.

Recently, Saudi Arabia accused Iran of arming Yemeni rebels with advanced rockets and with meddling in Lebanon’s political affairs. Iran says Saudi Arabia is needlessly firing up tensions.

On Thursday, Riyadh told Saudi citizens to immediately leave Lebanon, escalating a dispute over the influence of Hezbollah, which has close ties with Tehran.