Jordan’s King Abdullah II, a close ally of the US and UK, secretly invested millions in properties through off-shore businesses, including three neighboring mansions in Malibu he purchased for $70million.
The Pandora papers revealed Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein spent more than $106million to buy 15 homes around the world including in London and Ascot since coming to power in 1999.
The lavish purchases have been made despite Jordan receiving substantial state aid from the US and UK, whose government is one of the biggest financial backers of the regime, pledging $90million over five years in 2019.
The king is one of hundreds of world leaders, powerful politicians, billionaires, celebrities, religious leaders and drug dealers who have been hiding their investments in mansions, exclusive beachfront property, yachts and other assets for the past quarter-century, according to a review of nearly 12 million files obtained from 14 firms located around the world.
Jordan’s royal court today rejected the ‘distorted’ reports saying they ‘included inaccuracies and exaggerated the facts.’
The statement also said that the king had ‘personally funded’ the properties and all related expenses.
The Pandora Papers investigation found the king’s advisers set up at least three dozen shell companies over a period of more than 20 years from 1995 to 2017.
The documents expose how Jordan’s Abdullah, who went to school in the UK and US and trained at Sandhurst, created a network of offshore companies and tax havens to amass a sprawling property empire.
An investigation has found Jordan’s King Abdullah II’s advisers set up at least three dozen shell companies over a period of more than 20 years from 1995 to 2017 to purchase property
The king reportedly used a network of offshore accounts to buy three adjacent properties in Malibu for almost $70m between 2014 and 2017
The king reportedly used a network of offshore accounts to buy three adjacent properties in Malibu for almost $70m between 2014 and 2017. The middle one, according to the Washington Post contains seven bedrooms, nine baths, a gym, a cinema and a swimming pool.
The seven-bedroom home overlooks the Pacific Ocean and sits on the Point Dume peninsula of Malibu, California.
The property was bought in 2014 for a record price for the area at the time at $33.5m by Nabisco Holdings SA, a company in the British Virgin Islands.
Two different BVI companies bought the homes either side of the property. A $12.5m home in 2015 and in 2017 a $23 million ocean-view property, taking the total spend to $68m – all bought through a British Virgin Islands company.
Across the other side of the country, King Abdullah bought four apartments totaling $16m in Georgetown, a wealthy part of Washington DC, between 2012 and 2014. His son, Crown Prince Hussein, was attending Georgetown University at the time.
The advisers were identified as an English accountant in Switzerland and lawyers in the British Virgin Islands.
At the time of the purchases, one blogger who remain anonymous made an acute observation: ‘Someone has gone to a hell of a lot of trouble to cover their tracks here. Yes, very rich people often like to stay anonymous. But this level of deliberate opacity is practically beyond anything we’ve ever witnessed.’
Using an offshore company, he was able to keep his very ownership of the properties a secret.
Those who set up the companies on behalf of the king were extremely careful not to identify him and referred to him in internal documents as ‘You know who’.
One of the three homes is situated in lush surroundings overlooking the Pacific Ocean
The middle home contains seven bedrooms, nine baths, a gym, a cinema and a swimming pool
The smallest of the homes was $12.5 million but they are all to be knocked down in order to create one gigantic estate
Jordan’s King Abdullah amassed about $100 million worth of property in the United States and the UK through secret companies over the course of 14 years
In 2017 the British Virgin Islands introduced a law that compelled the owners of all companies on the island to be identified on a government register.
But a number of companies in the BVI linked to King Abdullah still do not have his details connected.
‘It’s just very, very difficult for the average Jordanian to, achieve a basic level of home and family, and a good job. And so to have it really thrown in Jordanian’s faces that he’s just been funneling money abroad all this time? That, that would look really bad,’ said Anelle Sheline, a Jordanian expert to BBC.
Jordan’s Royal Hashemite Court said in its statement that ‘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 King Abdullah was referred to as ‘You Know Who’ in secret documents used by offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands in order to hide his identity as the purchaser
‘His Majesty uses these properties during official visits and hosts officials and foreign dignitaries there. The King and his family members also stay in some of these properties during private visits.’
The statement said the location of the properties was not publicised ‘out of security and privacy concerns, and not out of secrecy or an attempt to hide them, as these reports have claimed’.
‘As such, the act of revealing these addresses by some media outlets is a flagrant security breach and a threat to His Majesty’s and his family’s safety.’
‘Any allegations that link these private properties to public funds or assistance are baseless and deliberate attempts to distort facts,’ it added.
The palace also stressed that ‘all public finances and international assistance are subject to professional audits, and their allocations are fully accounted for by the government and donor entities’.
The driveway of one of King Abdullah of Jordan’s Malibu properties which are to be knocked down and redeveloped
Despite being grand in nature, all three properties are to be knocked down to create one big compound
It comes as the king has been accused of running an authoritarian regime, which has seen a rise in protests in recent years over tax hikes and austerity measures.
The Jordanian authorities announced a crackdown in June 2020 to target money being sent abroad by its citizens. Meanwhile, the US provided Jordan a substantial amount of aid – more than $1.5bn in 2020.
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 has claimed he was the victim of a ‘malicious plot,’ placed his half brother under house arrest and put two former close aides on trial.
The US provided more than $1.5bn in aid to Jordan in 2020 but the king’s lawyers insist that the homes were all purchased with personal wealth. King Abdullah II is pictured in June 2021
More salacious details are to be released in the coming days from the Pandora Papers including a rare look into the private bank accounts of Kremlin insiders – those workers and confidants closely associated with President Putin.
The documents are set to show how sanctions from the U.S. had a real effect on Moscow and its financial workings.
The U.S. often chooses to inflict financial penalties as a form of sanction.
Oligarchs are said to have been targeted by the U.S. because of ‘malign’ activity by Russia who attempted to evade the penalties by shifting financial assets around in the hope that they may be out of reach of the Americans.
Ultimately, it appears that the sanctions affected their targets and triggered monetary losses, including on those working for the Moscow Kremlin.