King Abdullah II of Jordan has more than $120 million in assets, including at least two million dollars’ worth of real estate he owns in the United States, according to his income and tax returns released by the House Oversight Committee.
The documents, which include information on nearly every penny of his assets, tax returns, foreign travel and other personal details, provide a remarkable snapshot of how a conservative royal, who has spent much of his life behind palace walls, has accumulated much of his financial power.
On Wednesday, Canada quietly announced that it would deliver more than half a billion dollars worth of aid to Jordan. Canada has led efforts in the Middle East to support Syrian refugees. The disclosure of the king’s wealth, however, prompted questions about whether Canadians should be worried about their king’s spending.
“It raises some very troubling questions,” Darrell Issa, a Republican lawmaker from California, who serves on the committee investigating the king’s spending, said in an interview. “Can I subpoena him? Is he violating any of the requirements for disclosure, and if he’s violating them, have they been made known to me? We have concerns that need to be addressed.”
The King’s palace and gold-plated toilet seat
Bordered by a rich red sandstone wall, an opulent marble-covered palace sits in central Amman, Jordan’s capital, which is sheltered by mountains, sprawling gardens and striking river vistas.
It was also where King Abdullah opened his first presidential palace in the 1990s after he ascended the throne, according to Oremus. He added “out of necessity.”
From 2008 to 2013, the palace on Tiqaba Street was the gathering place for hundreds of guests at royal banquets. This included the king, grand military and security leaders, as well as the crown prince, his brothers and the country’s members of parliament.
The 12,000-square-foot palace sits on three floors and includes a grand ballroom with clear ceilings and velvet curtains and stained glass windows. Many of the treasures to be found at the palace have not been seen in Jordan since the 1960s, when the country began the systematic accumulation of foreign assets.
A striking example of the wealth the palace houses was the gold toilet seat imported from Canada. The suite’s staff photographs reveal that the toilet was in perfect working order.
At this, Issa asked: “If the toilet in your palace is there, when the king or anybody goes to the toilet, will that come out and be available to the public, will there be some expectation that they can see through the glare of the light that they aren’t entitled to see?”
Mr. King, I’m being pretty serious with this.”
Mr. King: And some other questions, sir.
Rep. Issa: Can you provide me with a passport? Can you supply me with a death certificate, if he has died? If you can’t answer those questions, then why not provide them?
Mr. King: Because these are private questions.
Mr. Issa: And I see that you have $30 million worth of real estate.
Mr. King: But the reason you see that is because I owned it and the Royal House of Jordan held it.
Rep. Issa: What is that?
Mr. King: All the personal property in Jordan, the American property, they represent the wealth of the Kingdom of Jordan, the personal wealth of me and the Royal House of Jordan, and they don’t belong to me personally. But these are personal assets, only my work in the business.”