Browder says if murder is proven, Khashoggi assassins must suffer 'most grave' sanctions

Key Points
  • The investor Bill Browder says sanctions must be placed on anyone found guilty of the killing of missing journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.
  • Khashoggi has been missing since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
  • Browder says he doesn't think President Trump, Turkish, or Saudi authorities can "control the story."
Bill Browder says Magnitsky Act could be used in Khashoggi case

Anyone found responsible for the killing of missing journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, should be targeted by sanctions, investor Bill Browder told CNBC Wednesday.

Khashoggi, a journalist for the Washington Post and critic of Saudi Arabian leaders, has been missing since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkish officials have said they believe the journalist was murdered and his body removed. The Saudis have strongly denied the allegation.

Browder said that according to reports he has read, Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered by up to 15 assassins sent from Saudi Arabia. He said authorities should impose "Magnitksy Act" sanctions on anyone deemed guilty of involvement in an extra-judicial killing.

Browder's lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, died in a Russian prison in 2009 after exposing corruption in the government.

Since then, Browder has led an anti-corruption campaign against Russian officials. In 2012, U.S. Congress passed the "Magnitsky Act," which sanctions Russians and others for alleged human rights abuses.

"If this is true, and again it hasn't been proven yet, but if this is true it is exactly what the Magnitsky Act is for. It should be for these people and those who order, going as high as it needs to go," he said to CNBC's Street Signs.

The American-born Browder, author of the 2015 book "Red Notice," worked in Russia for more than a decade — becoming the biggest foreign money manager in the country before leaving in 2005.

Now based in London, the investor told CNBC that any reluctance by authorities to properly investigate the Khashoggi case would fail to appease public outcry.

"I don't think President Trump, the Saudi regime, or the Turkish regime control the story," he said before adding "this is the most horrifying story I've ever heard and if there are not the most grave sanctions then everybody involved will lose credibility."

The investment and financial community has expressed displeasure at the possible slaying of Khashoggi with many corporate, media, and political organizations pulling out of an October investment conference organized by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund.

Browder said investors needed to go further and withdraw capital from the country but that could only happen with legal intervention.

"Investors basically are governed by greed and fear. If the penalties for doing business with bad guys are high enough, that will create the fear not to do business with them."