APCO Worldwide

Profile: APCO Worldwide

1- Name of NGO:

APCO Worldwide

2- Brief & Mission:

APCO Worldwide, a firm based in the United States, has come to light for its role as a consultant and advocate in the field of communications. It assisted prominent public and private sector entities in becoming agents of progress by addressing contemporary challenges, demonstrating flexibility, proactively addressing societal concerns, and establishing and enhancing organizational reputations, partnerships, and strategies for achieving success.

In 2017, it became known that the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information engaged APCO Worldwide as a crucial component of an extensive public relations initiative.

3- Bias, Agenda & Motivation:

APCO Worldwide, a prominent public relations (PR) firm that was enlisted by Saudi Arabia, has taken a stance to defend its role in providing media briefings concerning the country’s anti-corruption crackdown. This comes in response to claims reported by the New York Times that detainees involved in the campaign were subjected to physical abuse and coerced into surrendering their assets.

Among the responsibilities shouldered by APCO Worldwide was assisting in briefing journalists about the anti-corruption initiative spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, also known as MBS. This initiative was launched in November 2017 and entailed the detention of numerous royals and business figures at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.

Corruption has long been a deeply ingrained issue within the Saudi Arabian elite, and supporters of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman argued that these arrests were an integral part of a substantial and necessary reform effort.

4- Links to Governments/Political Agenda:

APCO Worldwide’s engagements with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) become particularly notable when considering its role in informing journalists about Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s anti-corruption campaign. This highlights APCO’s integral involvement in advancing political objectives through its collaboration with the KSA government. These circumstances underscore the lasting ties that APCO maintains with the leadership of the KSA, underscoring the firm’s active participation in political endeavors within the country.

5- Sources of Funding:

The contractual relationship between APCO and Saudi Arabia was not without its financial intricacies. It has come to light that a substantial sum was paid by Saudi Arabia to the firm.

6- Activities:

APCO Worldwide has collaborated with the Saudi Center for International Communications in providing media briefings, focusing on various subjects, including the anti-corruption crackdown.

APCO’s involvement is a component of a significant PR effort, amounting to millions of dollars, initiated by Mohammed Bin Salman. It’s noteworthy that the Crown Prince was scheduled to visit the United States on Monday.

According to an analyst closely connected to Saudi circles, this initiative was launched by the Saudis in mid-2016 as they recognized the need to regain ground in the battle for public opinion. Despite maintaining positive relationships with Western governments, who place value on Saudi Arabia as a purchaser of their weaponry and as a strategic partner in the Middle East, Riyadh has encountered mounting challenges regarding its public image.

7- NGO Leadership:

Margery Kraus is the Founder and Executive Chairman of the organization, while Brad Staples serves as the Chief Executive Officer.

8- Controversy:

The absence of a transparent legal process in the anti-corruption campaign has raised concerns among human rights advocates and international investors alike. Reports of ill-treatment of detainees had been circulating for some time, and the New York Times published allegations from a doctor and a US official suggesting that 17 detainees required medical attention due to abuse by their captors. Tragically, one of these detainees later died while in custody, as reported by the Times.

When questioned about whether APCO had taken any steps to ascertain the veracity of rumors regarding coercive and extrajudicial practices within the anti-corruption campaign before providing media briefings, a spokesperson for the firm informed the Bureau that there had been no perceived necessity to do so.

9- Contact Details:

  • Website:https://apcoworldwide.com

  • Address:USA

  • Email:  Crisis360@apcoworldwide.com

10- Classification/Blacklist:

APCO’s involvement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has stirred significant controversy. These endeavors are notably conducted in partnership with an autocratic regime, recognized for its extensively documented disregard for fundamental human rights. This affiliation has propelled APCO into heightened scrutiny, resulting in their inclusion on a list of entities subject to close monitoring due to their associations with the KSA government.

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