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Jordan's King Abdullah II

Jordan’s King Abdullah Kept Secret Swiss Bank Accounts to Hide Vast Wealth

The king of Jordan, Abdullah II, has for years kept massive bank accounts in Credit Suisse, a Swiss bank known for providing secrecy for high-end clients, during a period in which his country has suffered through economic and political turmoil.

King Abdullah was in possession of at least six accounts with the bank, including one that at one point was worth 230 million Swiss francs ($251 million), while his wife maintained another account. Some of the accounts date from as far back as 2011.

Lawyers for King Abdullah II and Queen Rania asserted that their clients had abided by every relevant tax law, that there had been no wrongdoing by the couple, and that most of the wealth in the bank accounts had been inherited from King Abdullah II’s father.

Jordan’s economy, while strong compared to those of many other Middle Eastern countries, has been negatively impacted by COVID-19, contracting by 1.6% during 2020, according to the World Bank. Abdullah, meanwhile, has been dogged by allegations of corruption in recent years.

Through the release of the Panama Papers, it was revealed that he had secretly purchased 14 luxury homes — at an estimated total value of $106 million — in the United States and the United Kingdom between 2003 and 2017, through front companies.

According to a report from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, attorneys and advisers to Abdullah worked extensively to conceal his real estate holdings, including establishing multiple shell companies and working through entities in Switzerland and the British Virgin Islands. The investigation found Abdullah owned at least 36 secret shell companies in tax havens.

Jordanian intelligence worked relentlessly to quash the publication of information related to King Abdullah II’s finances, threatening and intimidating local media outlets.

Jordan has been criticized for lapsing into increased authoritarianism in recent years. The US advocacy group Freedom House, which monitors democracy and human rights across the world, downgraded the kingdom from “partly free” to “not free” last year. (TOI / VFI News)

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