Jihad Watch : The Pandora Papers is the name given to a very detailed report, the
result of a multiyear investigation by 600 journalists from 117
countries, about how many of the world’s very rich — politicians,
celebrities, billionaires, drug dealers — manage to hide, for various
reasons including tax avoidance, a total of $32 trillion. Among them one
name has attracted special attention: King Abdullah of Jordan. A report
on his successful — until now — attempt to conceal assets is here:
“Jordan’s king hid over $100M in assets offshore, ‘Pandora Papers’ probe
shows,” Israel Hayom, October 4, 2021:
The report released Sunday by the International
Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) involved 600 journalists
from 150 media outlets in 117 countries sparked a political and social
firestorm by shedding light on the previously hidden financial dealings
of the world elite and how they have used offshore accounts to shield
assets collectively worth trillions of dollars.
Dubbed the “Pandora Papers,” for the Greek mythology artifact
the opening of which unleashed countless evils into the world, the
leaked records name hundreds of world leaders, powerful politicians,
billionaires, celebrities, religious leaders and drug dealers as having
been hiding their investments in mansions, exclusive beachfront
property, yachts and other assets for the past 25 years.
The more than 330 current and former politicians identified
as beneficiaries of the secret accounts include Jordan’s King Abdullah
II, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Czech PM Andrej Babis,
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso,
and associates of both Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian
President Vladimir Putin, to name a few.
Many of the accounts were designed to evade taxes and conceal assets for other shady reasons, according to the report.
The ICIJ’s latest investigation dug into accounts registered in
familiar offshore havens, including the British Virgin Islands,
Seychelles, Hong Kong, and Belize. But some of the secret accounts were
also scattered around in trusts set up in the US, including 81 in South
Dakota and 37 in Florida.
Some of the initial findings released Sunday painted a sordid picture of the prominent people involved.
The documents show, for example, how King Abdullah of Jordan
created a network of offshore companies and tax havens to amass a $100
million property empire from Malibu, California to Washington, and
The $100 million in real property that he bought through shell
companies set up for that purpose does not exhaust King Abdullah’s
wealth. How much more he may have in Swiss bank accounts, or in banks in
other countries, is not mentioned in the Pandora Papers, but we can
assume he has tens of millions of dollars hidden in this way, in
addition to the real property in the U.S. and the U.K. that the Pandora
Papers have revealed.
Data shows that advisers helped the monarch set
up over 35 shell companies from 1995 to 2017, as well as helped him buy
14 homes worth over $106 million in the US and the UK. One was a $23
million California ocean-view property bought in 2017 through a British
Virgin Islands company. The advisers were identified as an English
accountant in Switzerland and lawyers in the British Virgin Islands.
There was no immediate comment from Jordan’s Royal Palace.
Of course the Royal Palace of the Hashemite King of Jordan has no
comment. King Abdullah and his frantic advisers are stunned by the
Pandora Papers revelations, and trying to come up with some face-saving
response.. No doubt it will come down to the same lame excuse offered by
Tony Blair, who also used an offshore company to avoid paying hundreds
of thousands of pounds in taxes. Blair insisted that what he did “was
not illegal.” “Not illegal” – perhaps. Immoral and disgusting –
The details are an embarrassing blow to Abdullah,
59, 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 claimed he was the victim of a
“malicious plot,” placed his half brother under house arrest and put two
former close aides on trial.
It sounds as if his half-brother was on to something. How, if not
through corruption, could King Abdullah have amassed such a fortune, of
$106 million in real property, and other millions, or tens of millions
of dollars, in bank accounts opened under other names?
UK attorneys for Abdullah said the king is not
required to pay taxes under his country’s law and hasn’t misused public
funds. They stressed that all the properties were bought with King
Abdullah’s personal wealth, and it was common practice for high-profile
individuals to buy properties via offshore companies for privacy and
The King may have used his “personal wealth” to buy the properties,
but where did that “personal wealth” come from in the first place? Does
he take kickbacks from companies doing business with Jordan, such as
defense contractors who thereby are assured of lucrative weapons sales
to the kingdom? Does he receive a portion of foreign companies’ profits
on the sale of fuel oil, or sneakers, or medicines? Does he have a
monopoly on imported American cigarettes, the way that Mahmoud Abbas’
son Yasser does in the P.A.-run territories? The Pandora Papers
journalists have promised more revelations; let’s hope the full scale of
King Abdullah’s hidden wealth, and its sources, are laid bare.
“Any implication that there is something improper
about ownership of property through companies in offshore jurisdictions
is categorically denied,” said DLA Piper, the law firm that represents
the monarch. “[Abdullah] has not at any point misused public monies or
made any use whatsoever of the proceeds of aid or assistance intended
for public use….
Of course such ownership of property through offshore companies is
“improper” (even if not illegal), otherwise there would not be such
enormous and costly efforts made to hide that practice, including the
efforts by DLA Piper itself. Until we learn the sources of Abdullah’s
wealth, we cannot be sure he hasn’t helped himself to aid money meant
for the people of Jordan, or been taking a cut from companies doing
business in, or awarded contracts by, the government of Jordan.
These are the real reasons for Abdullah’s hiding his wealth by buying
expensive properties in the U.S. and the U.K. through shell companies.
He doesn’t want his people, who are struggling economically, to be made
aware of the size of his fortune, which they will understand could only
have been acquired through corruption. And equally important, he doesn’t
want Western donors to be aware of just how much wealth he has, lest
this affect their willingness to pony up, year after year, so much money
– with the U.S. alone now providing $1.5 billion a year.
Let us hope that in Congress someone will raise the issue of how much
wealth King Abdullah has amassed and hidden, beginning with what the
Pandora Papers have revealed so far, and whether, under the
circumstances, American taxpayers ought to be funding such a grasping
and corrupt ruler to the extent we are now doing.
The Pandora Papers revelation about King Abdullah brings immediately
to mind a much more infuriating example of corruption in the same
neighborhood. On the west bank of the Jordan, Mahmoud Abbas, the
President-for-Life of the Palestinian Authority, now entering the
seventeenth year of his four-year term, has with his two grasping sons
Tarek and Yasser, managed to amass a family fortune of $400 million. How
did he acquire such a sum? We know his sons have used his influence to
further their business interests in the West Bank. Abbas’ son Yasser
chairs Falcon Holding Group, a Palestinian conglomerate with tentacles
throughout the Palestinian territories.
Falcon Tobacco possesses the monopoly on importing U.S.-made cigarettes.
Falcon Global Telecom runs the cell phone business throughout the Palestinian Authority..
Falcon Electrical Mechanical has its hands in civil engineering contracts in everything from building sewers to paving roads.
And there is Falcon General Investment and Yasser’s extensive real estate holdings.
Yasser’s brother Tarek owns the biggest advertising firm in the PA,
called Sky, with plenty of work funneled to it from Abbas’ officialdom.
This tight knot of profitable connections has made the fortunes of
Mahmoud Abbas and his two sons. What would happen if ordinary
Palestinians, who know Mahmoud Abbas is corrupt but do not yet know the
full extent of his thievery and graft, were to learn the size of that
family fortune? 80% of Palestinians now say they want Abbas to resign.
Should the information about his $400-million nest egg come out, Abbas
would be threatened with an open revolt, by violent protesters — already
in an uproar over the murder of Abbas critic Nizar Banat — throughout
the P.A. territories.
But Abbas’ fortune pales in comparison to what two Hamas leaders,
Khaled Meshaal and Mousa Abu Marzouk, have managed to acquire. According
to both American and Arab sources, each of these men has amassed a
fortune of at least $2.5 billion — some say Meshaal’s fortune is
“between $2.5 and $5 billion” — colossal sums that are scarcely
believable. But these sums remain largely unknown to the Palestinian
public. If the impoverished Palestinians in Gaza were to find out that
$5 billion in aid money meant for them had been stolen by Meshaal and
Marzouk, there would be a mass uprising in Gaza against the current
Hamas leaders – the overall head, Ismail Haniyeh, and the Gaza chief,
Yahya Sinwar. Demands would be made for heads to roll, unless and until
those leaders, who have so far done nothing to claw back the sums stolen
by Meshaal and Marzouk, at long last demand that they repay what they
took. It is surprising that the names of Meshaal and Marzouk do not
appear in the Pandora Papers; they surely deserve to be included in its
investigations. Is it possible that the two former leaders of the terror
group were deemed too dangerous to expose, because they might respond
by unleashing attacks against the journalists who had been working on
their stories and were coming close to exposing them?
The donor nations that continue to send aid money meant to ameliorate
the living conditions of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank,
should take advantage of the Pandora Papers focus on financial
malfeasance among the powerful, the rich, the well-connected, by
insisting that until there is a return to the general Palestinian
coffers of much of the aid money that Mahmoud Abbas in the P.A.-ruled
territories, and Khaled Meshaal and Moussa abu Marzouk in Hamas-ruled
Gaza, have managed to steal, no more aid to either Hamas or the P.A.
will be forthcoming. Taxpayers in the Western world, once apprised of
the amazing sums that these three “thieves of Palestine” have made off
with, will insist. The Palestinians have received many billions of
dollars, some of it skimmed off the top by their leaders, much of it
spent on vast armories of weapons and terror tunnels, and what little is
left may relieve, by just a nearly imperceptible bit, the worst off
among the impoverished. There are many worthy recipients, woefully
underserved, of Western foreign aid. As of now, the Palestinians are not