The so-called Pandora Papers investigation 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, Washington, DC and London.
According to the survey: “Three private mansions by the sea in Malibu [were] bought through three offshore companies for $ 68 million by the King of Jordan in the years following the Jordanians who took to the streets during the Arab Spring to protest unemployment and corruption.
Abdullah, 59, also owns three luxury apartments in a resort in Washington, DC with panoramic views of the Potomac River, and a house in Ascot, one of England’s most expensive cities, as well as apartments for several million dollars in central London, according to the report. .
“Jordan does not have the kind of money that other Middle Eastern monarchies, like Saudi Arabia, have for a king to display his wealth,” said Annelle Sheline, an expert on the Middle East. -East.
“If the Jordanian monarch flaunted his wealth more publicly, it wouldn’t just upset his people, it would upset Western donors who gave him money.
Lawyers for King Abdullah have been quoted as saying that all of the properties were purchased with personal wealth, and that it was standard practice for prominent people to purchase properties through offshore companies for reasons of confidentiality. and security.
“Any implication that there is anything inappropriate about the ownership of property through companies located in offshore jurisdictions is categorically denied,” said DLA Piper, the law firm representing the monarch.
« [Abdullah] has at no time embezzled public funds or made any use whatsoever of the proceeds of aid or assistance intended for public use.
336 high-level politicians
Some 35 current and former executives are included in documents analyzed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) – facing allegations ranging from corruption to money laundering and global tax evasion.
The documents also show that Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis – facing elections later this week – did not say an offshore investment company used to buy a castle worth $ 22 million in southern France.
In total, the ICIJ has found links between nearly 1,000 companies in offshore havens and 336 high-level politicians and officials, including country leaders, ministers, ambassadors and others.
More than two-thirds of the businesses were established in the British Virgin Islands.
In most countries, the ICIJ points out, it is not illegal to have offshore assets or use shell companies to do business across national borders.
But such revelations are no less embarrassing for leaders who may have campaigned publicly against corruption or advocated austerity measures at home.
“The new data breach must be a wake-up call,” said Sven Giegold, a Green Party lawmaker in the European Parliament. “Global tax evasion fuels global inequality. We need to expand and refine the countermeasures now. “
Aliyev and Kenyatta on the list
Among the other revelations of the ICIJ investigation:
- The family and associates of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev have allegedly been secretly involved in real estate deals in Britain worth hundreds of millions.
- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and six members of his family are believed to secretly own a network of offshore companies.
- Members of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inner circle, including cabinet ministers and their families, are believed to secretly own companies and trusts holding millions of dollars.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin is not directly named in the files, but is linked via associates to secret assets in Monaco.
The Pandora Papers are the latest in a series of massive financial document leaks by the ICIJ that began with LuxLeaks in 2014, and were followed by the Panama Papers, Paradise Papers and FinCen.
The documents behind the latest investigation come from financial services companies in countries such as the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Belize, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Switzerland.
The latest bombshell is even bigger than the Panama Papers, involving nearly 3 terabytes of data – the equivalent of about 750,000 photos on a smartphone – disclosed by 14 different service providers doing business in 38 different jurisdictions in the world.
Records date back to the 1970s, but most records span from 1996 to 2020.