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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Pandora Papers: Jordan’s king denies impropriety in luxury home purchases

King Abdullah denied any impropriety, citing security needs for keeping the transactions quiet and saying no public funds were used.

By: AP | Amman |
October 4, 2021 3:55:21 pm
In this May 26, 2021 file photo, Jordan's King Abdullah II listens during a meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in Amman, Jordan. (AP)

Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Monday denied any impropriety in his purchase of luxury homes abroad, citing security needs for keeping quiet about the transactions that are reportedly worth more than $100 million. He said no public funds were used.

The comment by the Royal Palace comes a day after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reported that hundreds of world leaders, powerful politicians, billionaires, celebrities, religious leaders and drug dealers have been hiding their investments in mansions, exclusive beachfront property, yachts and other assets for the past quarter-century.

The report is based on a review of nearly 12 million files obtained from 14 firms located around the world, the consortium said. The report is being dubbed the “Pandora Papers” because the findings shed light on the previously hidden dealings of the elite and the corrupt, and how they have used offshore accounts to shield assets collectively worth trillions of dollars.

For instance, the investigation found advisers helped Jordan’s king set up at least three dozen shell companies from 1995 to 2017, helping the monarch buy 14 homes worth more than $106 million in the US and the UK One was a $23 million California ocean-view property bought in 2017 through a British Virgin Islands company. The advisers were identified as an English accountant in Switzerland and lawyers in the British Virgin Islands.

Abdullah denied any impropriety, citing security needs for keeping the transactions quiet and saying no public funds were used.

“These properties are not publicized out of security and privacy concerns, and not out of secrecy or an attempt to hide them, as these reports have claimed,” the Royal Court statement said. “Measures to maintain privacy are crucial for a head of state of His Majesty’s position.”

The statement described the consortium’s report on his real estate portfolio as a “flagrant security breach and a threat to His Majesty’s and his family’s safety.”

The details are an embarrassing blow to Abdullah, whose government was engulfed in scandal this year when his half brother, former Crown Prince Hamzah, accused the “ruling system” of corruption and incompetence. The king claimed he was the victim of a “malicious plot,” placed his half brother under house arrest and put two former close aides on trial.

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