Jordan’s King Abdullah II, former Jerusalem Mayor and current Likud MK Nir Barkat are among hundreds of top-flight global leaders whose affairs were exposed Sunday by the publication of the “Pandora Papers”.
According to the report, the monarch secretly owned 14 luxury homes in the UK and US, worth a total of more than $106 million, in addition to at least 36 front companies in tax havens. The purpose and/or assets of some of the companies is unclear.
Barkat held shares in several companies until he was elected to the Knesset, after which he transferred his shares to his brother Eli Barkat, according to The Jerusalem Post. One of the companies was registered in a tax haven nation, instead of in Israel.
The MK’s office said in a response Sunday evening that Barkat is “proud of the fact that he has always paid his taxes in full in Israel and makes sure to work for a shekel a year in all his public positions.
“It should be noted that the law allows a Knesset member to transfer his business to blind management to a relative who was a partner in his business in the past,” the statement continued. “It is difficult to separate the political interests they have felt in publishing this ridiculous ‘investigation’ from the fact that Barkat is marked as one of the leaders who could bring the Likud back to power,” his office added.
The 2.94-terabyte database published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) exposes the offshore dealings of politicians, royal family members, celebrities, billionaires, drug dealers and even religious leaders.
“These are people who use tax and secrecy havens to buy property and hide assets; many avoid taxes and worse,” the ICIJ said. “They include more than 330 politicians and 130 Forbes billionaires, as well as celebrities, fraudsters, drug dealers, royal family members and leaders of religious groups around the world.”
“Israel” appears more than 40,000 times in the leaked documents, according to the Shomrim nonprofit investigative journalism newsroom.
Listed in the report were 565 Israelis identified as final beneficiaries of companies, along with 10 Israeli billionaires — placing Israel 16th among the nations which appear in the report.
More than 330 politicians alone, from 90 countries, were exposed in the database, which contains leaked confidential documents dating as far back as 1970.
More than 600 journalists from 117 nations reviewed and analyzed more than 11.9 million documents to create the report, the ICIJ said.