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JORDAN’S King Abdullah II denied any impropriety today in his purchase of luxury homes abroad, citing “security needs” for keeping quiet about transactions reportedly worth more than £75 million.
The Royal Palace comment 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 beach-front 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 has been dubbed the Pandora Papers as the findings shed light on 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 £77.9m in the US and Britain.
“These properties are not publicised out of security and privacy concerns,” the royal statement said, “and not out of secrecy or an attempt to hide them, as these reports have claimed.”
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’s reaction was to claim that he was the victim of a “malicious plot,” place his half-brother under house arrest and put two former close aides on trial.
Among more than 330 figures exposed by the Pandora Papers as beneficiaries of secret accounts are former British prime minister Tony Blair, Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso and associates of both Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Billionaires called out in the report include Turkish construction mogul Erman Ilicak and Robert T Brockman, the former chief of software maker Reynolds & Reynolds.
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