Jordan’s king says no public funds used to buy luxury property abroad

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Jordan’s King Abdullah II refuted on Monday a data leak on his luxury property holdings abroad as misleading and distorted, saying they are not a secret and that no public funds were used to purchase them.

They are “not publicised out of security and privacy concerns, and not out of secrecy or an attempt to hide them,” the royal court said in a statement.

An investigation said that Abdullah secretly purchased 14 luxury homes between 2003 and 2017, through front companies registered in tax havens. The properties in the United States and Britain are worth more than 106 million dollars, it said.

The Pandora Papers investigation, carried out by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, revealed how hundreds of heads of state, politicians and prominent figures have assets in offshore accounts, secretive foundations or shell companies.

“The Royal Hashemite Court categorically rejects all reports that have distorted the facts and presented misleading information and unsubstantiated conclusions, and it maintains its right to undertake the necessary legal procedures,” the palace said.

It added that Abdullah’s properties in the US and Britain are used for private family visits or to host officials and foreign dignitaries.

These houses were purchased by private funds and have nothing to do with the state budget or international aid given to the kingdom, the palace noted.

“Such allegations are defamatory and designed to target Jordan’s reputation as well as His Majesty’s credibility and the critical role he plays regionally and internationally,” the statement said.

Jordan, a mostly desert kingdom and a major regional US ally, is largely dependant on foreign aid.

The coronavirus pandemic has put pressure on Jordan’s already embattled economy, strained for years by neighbouring conflicts and an influx of refugees.

Unemployment reached 25 per cent during the first quarter of 2021, according to official figures.

The International Monetary Fund said the economy contracted by 1.6 per cent in 2020 and public debt reached 88 per cent of gross domestic product.

In recent years, Jordan witnessed mass protests as people denounced corruption as well as austerity measures imposed by the government.

The leaks also come following a crisis earlier this year, when a rare feud within the royal family became public.

Abdullah accused his half-brother Hamzah of involvement in a plot that threatened the country, while Hamzah said he was placed under house arrest and publicly criticized “the breakdown in governance, the corruption” and lack of political freedoms.

The crisis raised questions worldwide over the country’s perceived stability.

Months later, Abdullah formed a committee to draft a plan for political reforms, yet a recent survey said many Jordanians did not trust its outcomes.

According to the constitution, the King is immune from any liability and responsibility.

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