King Abdullah II of Jordan has claimed that he used offshore accounts to hide a £70m hidden wealth empire, “designed to humiliate and target Jordan’s prestige” as the monarch was charged with lavish spending. It is facing increasing scrutiny, while foreign aid is also asking its cash-strapped country to drag on. out of recession.
The damning report released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists claimed that King used a network of secretly owned firms to spend more than $100m (£70m) on assets in the UK and US, including Malibu includes homes as well as luxury apartments. In Washington DC, Central London and Ascot.
The revelations – part of the so-called Pandora Letters – come at a difficult time. They were made public on Sunday as King Abdullah was meeting with the head of the World Bank, where he discussed further aid to the beleaguered country, which is struggling to cope with a massive refugee crisis and rising unemployment.
It also comes as King Abdullah’s popularity was hit after his half-brother accused the country’s leadership of corruption.
Jordan has long been touted as an important partner for the West in the Middle East and an island of stability in a region that often suffers from conflict and unrest. It has received substantial foreign aid from countries such as the UK and US, but has been the target of a fierce protest movement in recent years due to the worsening economic crisis.
King Abdullah denied any wrongdoing, saying he remained silent about the transaction due to security concerns. The statement repeatedly denied public finances and used international aid, and said publishing his real estate portfolio was “a major security breach and a threat to the safety of Her Majesty and her family”.
“Any allegation that links these private assets to public funds or aid is baseless and an attempt to deliberately distort facts,” the Royal Hashemite Court said in a statement on Monday.
“Such allegations are defamatory and designed to target Jordan’s reputation as well as Her Majesty’s credibility.”
Details in the report were notably absent in the Jordanian media, which is often handled directly or indirectly by the authorities: a possible indication that the palace was concerned with the claims.
Journalists from a Jordanian news outlet attempted to publish an excerpt, stating Washington Post That he received a call asking him to take down the article.
Analysts told Granthshala While the revelations were unlikely to provoke any new protests on the ground, it could further damage the popularity of the king, who has repeatedly faced economic hardship and the country in need of more aid. Jordan, among the region’s poorest and driest countries, relies on billions of dollars in foreign support as it struggles to host millions of Syrian and Palestinian refugees.
“The optics of this revelation are a bitter pill to swallow for most Jordanians, who are struggling. This is a very expensive country to live in: the people are largely living on the economic support of the diaspora,” University of Waterloo Professor of Politics Besma Momani said.
“I don’t think it’s any surprise that the king has a lot of foreign possessions. But he has to defend himself fiercely. [against accusations] That foreign aid is going to his treasury. People are legitimately disappointed with their economic condition,” she said.
The consortium’s report is based on a review of around 12 million files received from 14 firms located across the world, the consortium said.
It is being dubbed the “Pandora Papers” because the findings shed light on how the elite and corrupt often use offshore accounts to collectively shield trillions of dollars of wealth.
In the case of King Abdullah, who annually presents awards for “government performance and transparency” in his name, the investigation claims that the advisers helped the Jordanian king set up at least three dozen shell companies in the tax haven. Of. Between 2003 and 2017 these companies reportedly assisted the monarch in buying 14 homes worth more than $106m in the US and UK.
The lavish portfolio is said to include three beachside homes under reconstruction in Point Dume, an exclusive enclave near Los Angeles. Among them is reportedly a seven-bedroom mansion overlooking the Pacific Ocean, purchased through a British Virgin Islands company in 2014 for $33.5m, a record price for the area at the time.
The report also noted that a campus in Washington DC had several luxury apartments with “strange views” of the Potomac River.
King Abdullah vehemently denied that there was anything wrong with the purchase, saying the properties were often used for official purposes.
“These properties have not been publicized out of security and privacy concerns, and no attempt has been made to secrecy or conceal them, as claimed in these reports,” the palace said.
“Measures to maintain confidentiality are important for the head of state of Her Majesty’s position.”
The statement described the consortium’s report on their real estate portfolio as “a major security breach and a threat to the safety of Her Majesty and her family”.
King Abdullah’s government ran into trouble earlier this year when his half-brother, former Crown Prince Hamza, accused the “ruling system” of corruption and incompetence. The king claimed he was the victim of a “malicious conspiracy”, and placed Hamza under house arrest. Two former close aides were prosecuted.
Another analyst, Labib Kamhawi, told the Associated Press that although it was still too early to draw any conclusions about whether King would suffer any long-term losses, it was sure to raise eyebrows internationally.
“It is bound to affect Jordan’s ability to easily ask for aid,” he said. “Business as usual? It won’t be until this information is floating around the world.”
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /