By Naadiya Adams
The Pandora papers leaked over the weekend exposed the world to the expensive real estate dealings of Jordan’s King, Abdullah II.
Since he assumed power in 1999, Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein has bought 15 homes through a network of secretly-owned firms, according to leaked financial documents, dubbed the Pandora papers.
They included houses in Malibu, in London, and Ascot in the UK to the value of over a $100m.
While the leak makes headlines around the world, Jordanian media have not been reporting on the matter, on Monday a single statement was released by news outlets from the royal court, rejecting claims made in the massive Pandora papers leak.
The leak has laid bare some questionable dealings of world leaders and business tycoons around the globe.
Daoud Kuttab, an investigative journalist with Arab News, said in an interview with Radio Islam that media outlets in Jordan are not allowed to report on the Pandora papers.
“The law in Jordan, the constitution is very clear that it is a crime to hold the King accountable so the King is above reproach according to the constitution, therefore, it’s a very difficult issue to deal with when it comes to local media,” explained Kuttab.
Tax havens are known throughout the world and many world leaders and billionaires use them for tax prevention, but for a King who doesn’t pay taxes it’s more for secrecy than anything else.
Earlier this week, the royal court released a statement saying the King does own various properties however they were accumulated through his own personal wealth rather than state money or government coffers.
The statement according to Kuttab has been widely accepted by the Jordanian public. The people believe that as a King its natural for Abdullah II to own property in secret for security reasons.
And while the image of royals living in luxury while their people suffer in poverty paints a bleak picture, for the Western nations who offer financial aid, Jordan is appealing for many reasons.
“Jordan is a strategic country, geopolitically and Jordan hosts over two million refugees which they don’t have to do, there are strategic reasons for Jordan’s donors. Nothing has been proven that his homes were bought with money that came from donors,” says Kuttab.
He says that donors have in fact come out in support of Abdullah II, saying the funds allocated to Jordan by donors have been audited and the records are squeaky clean.
The data was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Washington DC and has led to one of the biggest ever global investigations. Over 600 journalists from 117 countries have looked at the secret fortunes of some of the most powerful people on earth.