Jordan king's $100 million offshore property empire exposed in Pandora Papers leak
Jordanian King Abdullah II has been accused of secretly purchasing luxury homes worth tens of millions of dollars through front companies registered in tax havens, according to the Pandora Papers's latest reveal on Sunday.
An investigation led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) purports to show that the monarch owns at least 36 front companies and has purchased 14 homes in the US and UK, worth over $106 million,.
The investigation reveals that accountants in Switzerland and the British Virgin Islands formed shell companies on Abdullah's behalf, enabling him to amass personal wealth during a time when Jordan was struggling economically and receiving foreign aid.
"It is no secret that His Majesty owns a number of apartments and residences in the United States and the United Kingdom. This is not unusual nor improper," Jordan's Royal Hashemite Court said in a statement on Monday.
"These properties are not publicised out of security and privacy concerns, and not out of secrecy or an attempt to hide them ... the cost of these properties and all related expenditures have been personally funded by His Majesty," the Royal Court added.
"Any implication that there is something improper about [Abdullah's] ownership of property through companies in offshore jurisdictions is categorically denied," DLA Piper, a London law firm representing the king, told The Washington Post.
"It would be a clear threat to the security and privacy of [Abdullah] and his family if their ownership of particular properties were known," the firm continued, stating that the use of offshore companies is necessary to protect the king.
Last year the US gave Jordan over $1.5 billion in foreign aid and military funding and the EU agreed to provide the country with over $218 million.
Annelle Sheline, an expert on political and religious authority in the Middle East, stated that if the Jordanian monarch would publicly reveal his wealth, it would antagonise both western donors and the Jordanian public, according to the ICIJ.
The Pandora Papers is a leak of over 11.5 million financial and legal records, exposing funds hidden by secret offshore companies in a "system that enables crime ,corruption, and wrongdoing".
The leaked files have revealed offshore holdings on 140 politicians and public officials around the world.