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Jordan’s King Abdullah, referred to as You Know Who in real estate documents used offshore companies


Jordan’s King Abdullah II, a close ally of the United States, spent more than $100million in secret in order to purchase more than a dozen homes around the world.

The leaked financial documents detail how a complex network of secretly-owned firms were used by Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein to buy 15 homes since coming to power in 1999.

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. 

The 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. 

It was to help the monarch buy homes totaling more than $106 million in the United States and United Kingdom. 

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 documents expose how Jordan’s Abdullah created a network of offshore companies and tax havens to amass a $100 million property empire from Malibu, California to Washington and London.    

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. 

One of the three homes is situated in lush surroundings overlooking the Pacific Ocean

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 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

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

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

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.’ 

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

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

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’. 

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.

The driveway of one of King Abdullah of Jordan's Malibu properties which are to be knocked down and redeveloped

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

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 Jordanian embassy in Washington declined to comment, but the BBC cited lawyers for the king saying all the properties were bought with personal wealth, and that it was common practice for high profile individuals to purchase properties via offshore companies for privacy and security reasons. 

Attorneys for Abdullah said he isn’t required to pay taxes under his country’s law and insist that has not misused public funds, adding that there are security and privacy reasons for him to have holdings through offshore companies.

The attorneys also said most of the companies and properties are not connected to the king or no longer exist, although the exact details have not been provided.  

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

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.



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