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Jordan’s king leaders accused of assembling secret wealth empire

Jordan’s king leaders accused of assembling secret wealth empire
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Jordan’s king leaders accused of assembling secret wealth empire

Jordan’s king leaders accused of assembling secret wealth empire

GAZA CITY – Jordan’s King Abdullah II came under scrutiny on Sunday after a coalition of international news organizations reported that he was using secret offshore accounts to hoard foreign assets and hide his assets. He was one of the world leaders.

King was accused of using shell companies registered in the Caribbean to purchase 15 properties in southeast England, Washington, DC and Malibu, California, collectively worth more than $100 million. The purchase was not illegal, but his exposure prompted double charges. Standards: Jordan’s prime minister, who was appointed by the king, announced an crackdown on corruption in 2020, including targeting citizens who used shell companies to hide their foreign investments.

Jordan’s royal court declined to provide a comment to The New York Times, but King Abdullah’s lawyers told the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which published the report, that his foreign assets were purchased exclusively from his personal fortune. , not with public money.

The claims against King Abdullah were part of a major investigation known as the Pandora Papers, which was conducted by the ICIJ in partnership with more than a dozen international news outlets, including The Washington Post and The Guardian. Based on leaks of nearly 12 million files from 14 offshore companies, the investigation found that King Abdullah was among 35 current and former politicians, as well as more than 300 public officials, who used offshore shell companies to hide their wealth and done to hide. Transfer of that money abroad.

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The documents do not necessarily show wrongdoing, but they are considered remarkable because they reveal the extent to which some political leaders have been able to avoid paying taxes on their assets and avoid public accountability and scrutiny.

Moments after the report was released, Jordanians said the ICIJ website had been blocked in the country, a sign that the monarchy was concerned about the revelations at a critical time for the country and its king.

Although the state is seen by Western allies as a key participant in the campaign against extremist groups, a linchpin in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and an island of stability in a troubled region, it has been beset by internal conflicts in recent months. .

Misuse of public funds, high unemployment rates and the alleged mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic have angered the population and increased frustration among the royal family.

“There have been major problems in recent months – the crisis in the bureaucratic system, the deaths from the coronavirus, the crisis in the royal family,” said Jordanian political analyst Amer Al Sabaileh. “Now comes this very delicate issue that touches all Jordanians.”

Six months ago, King Abdullah placed his half-brother Prince Hamza under house arrest, accusing him of conspiring against him. The king pardoned the prince, who had previously embarrassed the king by speaking out against government corruption, but a court later imprisoned two of the prince’s alleged companions.

In recent months, King Abdullah has attempted to cement his position by underlining his credibility as a Western ally and a key player in Middle Eastern diplomacy; After several years of poor relations with his predecessors, he recently met with President Biden and Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

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But as King Abdullah turns a corner, new revelations “could be a trigger for people to go back on the streets,” Mr. Al Sabaileh said.

King Abdullah is among dozens of current and former leaders whose foreign investments were exposed. Other leaders included Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, whose alleged ex-boyfriend bought an apartment in Monaco; Lady Babis, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, who is said to have purchased property in the south of France using a complex offshore structure; Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, who sold a London mansion to the Crown Estate, a property trust formally owned by Queen Elizabeth II; and Tony Blair, the former British prime minister who avoided paying more than $400,000 in taxes when he and his wife Cherry acquired a London property they owned by buying an offshore company.

The mechanism was legal and Mrs Blair, who used the property as an office for her legal counsel, told the BBC that Blair had only purchased the building through an offshore company at the request of the sellers.

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