Jordan’s King Abdullah II is one of dozens of world leaders who has hidden millions of dollars in offshore tax havens and secretly bought luxury homes around the world, according to an investigation published Sunday.
The so-called Pandora Papers probe involving some 600 journalists is based on the leak of some 11.9 million documents from 14 global financial services.
The documents show how King Abdullah II created a network of offshore companies and tax havens to build a $100 million real estate empire from Malibu, California to Washington, DC and London.
According to the survey: “Three townhouses on the beach in Malibu [were] purchased through three offshore companies for $68 million by the King of Jordan in the years after Jordanians filled the streets during the Arab Spring to protest unemployment and corruption.”
Abdullah, 59, also owns three luxury apartments in a Washington, DC complex with panoramic views of the Potomac River, and a home in Ascot, one of England’s most expensive cities, along with multimillion-dollar apartments in central London. , the report said. .
“Jordan does not have the kind of money that other Middle Eastern monarchies, such as Saudi Arabia, need to let a king show off his wealth,” said Annelle Sheline, a Middle Eastern scholar. quoted as said.
“If the Jordanian monarch were to display his wealth more publicly, it would not only antagonize his people, but also deter Western donors who have given him money.”
King Abdullah’s lawyers were quoted as saying that all properties were bought with personal wealth, and it was common for prominent individuals to buy properties through offshore companies for privacy and security reasons.
“Any implication that there is anything inappropriate about property ownership through companies in offshore jurisdictions is categorically denied,” said DLA Piper, the law firm representing the monarch.
“[Abdullah] has not at any time misused government funds or in any way exploited the proceeds of aid or assistance intended for public use.”
336 high-level politicians
About 35 current and former leaders are included in the documents analyzed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) – facing charges ranging from corruption to money laundering and global tax avoidance.
The documents also show that Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis – who is facing elections later this week – has not stated that an offshore investment company had been used to buy a $22 million castle in the south of France.
In total, the ICIJ found links between nearly 1,000 companies in offshore paradises and 336 high-ranking politicians and officials, including country leaders, ministers, ambassadors and others.
More than two-thirds of the companies were located in the British Virgin Islands.
In most countries, the ICIJ emphasizes, it is not illegal to have offshore assets or to use shell companies to conduct business across national borders.
But such revelations are no less an embarrassment to leaders who may have publicly campaigned against corruption or advocated austerity measures domestically.
“The new data breach should be a wake-up call,” said Sven Giegold, a Green MP in the European Parliament. “Global tax evasion fuels global inequality. We now need to expand and tighten countermeasures.”
Aliyev and Kenyatta on the list
Among the other revelations from the ICIJ investigation:
- Family and associates of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev have been secretly involved in property transactions in Britain worth hundreds of millions.
- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and six family members are said to secretly own a network of offshore companies.
- Members of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inner circle, including ministers and their families, are said to secretly own multimillion-dollar companies and trusts.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin is not directly named in the files, but he is linked to secret assets in Monaco through associates.
The Pandora Papers are the latest in a series of massive ICIJ leaks of financial documents that started in 2014 with LuxLeaks, followed by the Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers and FinCen.
The documents behind the latest investigation come from financial services companies in the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Belize, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Switzerland, among others.
The latest bomb is even more comprehensive than the Panama Papers, containing nearly 3 terabytes of data — the equivalent of about 750,000 photos on a smartphone — leaked from 14 different service providers doing business in 38 different jurisdictions around the world.
The data dates back to the 1970s, but most of the records span from 1996 to 2020.