Big bank CEOs stay out of Trump’s search for ‘deal of the century’ on Middle East peace


The CEOs of America’s largest banks are turning down invites to the Trump administration’s economic workshop in Bahrain intended to jump-start their Middle East peace plan, CNBC has learned.

The White House invited J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat to attend the “Peace to Prosperity” forum, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.

None of these executives will attend the event, these people added.

While those close to the executives say they won’t be taking part due to scheduling conflicts, their absence is a blow to the administration’s efforts to bring together influential U.S. business leaders to start a dialogue on investing in the region.

All three banks have business ties to the Middle East, including offices in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

CNBC first reported that the White House had invited many of President Donald Trump’s business allies. But it’s still uncertain how many of Trump’s associates will turn up.

Tom Barrack, inaugural chairman and Colony Capital founder was invited and his spokesman told CNBC he will make it to the Gulf state. Steve Schwarzman, CEO of private equity behemoth Blackstone and top Trump campaign donor, will likely make the trip, people familiar with the matter told CNBC on Thursday.

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink was invited, but also can’t make it. It’s unclear if Goldman Sachs’ Dina Powell, who was Trump’s deputy national security advisor, will be there. A spokesman for Goldman did not respond to questions about whether Goldman’s leader, David Solomon, received an invite. A Wells Fargo spokesman declined to comment on whether their interim CEO C. Allen Parker was invited.

Representatives for J.P. Morgan, Citi, and Bank of America declined to comment. The White House did not return a request for comment.

The meeting is part of Trump’s effort to strike the “deal of the century” for Israeli-Palestinian peace. The Bahrain gathering will focus on the economic part of the push, which has been led by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a senior White House advisor. Kushner and a team of senior White House officials have been attempting to bring Israeli and Palestinian leaders to the negotiating table since the administration’s earliest days.

Last month, the White House announced the Bahrain summit, which was described at the time as a chance for attendees to “galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement,” with a particular focus on Palestinians.

“I look forward to these important discussions about a vision that will offer Palestinians exciting new opportunities to realize their full potential,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said at the time of the conference announcement.

Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders and business executives are boycotting the workshop with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas blasting the meeting.

“Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ will go to hell, as will the economic workshop in Bahrain that the Americans intend to hold and present illusions,” Abbas said last week.

Representatives from wealthy Gulf states like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia will be attending. Officials from Qatar are set to take part as well.