The King of Jordan secretly spent more than £70m ($100m) on a property empire in the UK and US.
Leaked financial documents identify a network of secretly-owned firms used by Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein to buy 15 homes since he assumed power in 1999.
They included houses in Malibu, and in London and Ascot in the UK.
Lawyers for King Abdullah said he used his personal wealth to buy the homes and there was nothing improper about him using offshore firms to do so.
Jordan receives substantial international aid, including from the US and UK. The UK government is one of the regime’s biggest financial backers, doubling its funding to £650m over five years in 2019.
And King Abdullah is seen as a moderate Western ally in the Middle East.
But his property interests have been built up between 2003 and 2017 as he has been accused of presiding over an authoritarian regime at home – with protests taking place in recent years at a time of austerity measures and tax rises.
The Jordanian authorities announced a crackdown in June 2020 to target money being sent abroad by its citizens.
One dissident has been quoted as saying King Abdullah appears to rule Jordan by “remote control” – and a former government employee suggested to Panorama he spends four to six months a year away from the country.
Who is the King of Jordan?
- Born 30 January 1962, eldest son of King Hussein and his British born wife Princess Muna Al-Hussein
- Schooled in the UK and US, attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
- Served in the British Army and the Royal Jordanian Army
- Married Queen Rania in 1993
- Backed Western military efforts following the September 11 attacks
- Promoted economic and social modernisation within Jordan but faced criticism over the economy, with austerity measures and tax rises sparking protests in 2018