Jordan rejects Pandora Papers claims as 'distorted'

Amman (AFP) –


Jordan on Monday rejected as "distorted" claims made in the "Pandora Papers" that King Abdullah II created a network of offshore companies to build a $100 million overseas property empire.

Abdullah did not directly address the issue in remarks later in the day, but he denounced what he called a "campaign against Jordan".

The investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, involving some 600 journalists from media worldwide, is based on the leak of some 11.9 million documents from 14 financial services companies.

While not alleging criminal wrong-doing by Abdullah II, the reports allege he created a network of offshore companies to quietly purchase luxury residences from Malibu and California to Washington and London.

In a statement, Jordan's Royal Hashemite Court said the reports "included inaccuracies and distorted and exaggerated the facts".

It said the king had "personally funded" the properties and all related expenses.

The royal court also denounced the reports for revealing the location of the properties, saying it was "a flagrant security breach and a threat to His Majesty's and his family's safety".

Abdullah only addressed the issue implicitly later on Monday.

"Attempts to embarrass Jordan have been going on for some time, and there are still those who want to sabotage it and sew suspicions," a royal court statement quoted him as saying to a group of tribal elders.

- 'Nothing to hide' -

"We have nothing to hide," he added.

The royal court said "it is no secret that His Majesty owns a number of apartments and residences in the United States and the United Kingdom. This is not unusual nor improper.

"His Majesty uses these properties during official visits and hosts officials and foreign dignitaries there. The King and his family members also stay in some of these properties during private visits."

The statement said the location of the properties was not publicised "out of security and privacy concerns, and not out of secrecy or an attempt to hide them, as these reports have claimed".

"As such, the act of revealing these addresses by some media outlets is a flagrant security breach and a threat to His Majesty's and his family's safety."

"Any allegations that link these private properties to public funds or assistance are baseless and deliberate attempts to distort facts," it added.

The palace also stressed that "all public finances and international assistance are subject to professional audits, and their allocations are fully accounted for by the government and donor entities".

It said the allegations made in the Pandora Papers "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".

In his meeting with tribal elders, Abdullah echoed those words.

"The kingdom enjoys the esteem and support of brotherly and friendly nations, and has a strong and influential role on the regional and international scene," he said.

"It is not he first time that Jordan has been targeted," he said, vowing that his country would "remain strong".