The offshore Arabs

In April 2016, a vast number of leaked documents known as the Panama Papers shed new light on the murky world of offshore finance. The documents named prominent figures from many countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen among the Arab countries.

Below is a summary of the information revealed so far on the website of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, together with links to news reports and other articles providing further details. This page will be updated as more information emerges.

Readers who spot other relevant articles are invited to post links in the comments thread.

General discussion

The ‘Panama Papers’ succeeded where traditional media failed 
Faisal Abbas, Alarabiya, 14 April 2016

'Panama Papers' expose Arab journalism too 
Diana Moukalled, Alarabiya, 13 April 2016

Panama Papers: Are dictators and US opponents unfairly targeted? 
Imogen Lambert,The New Arab, 5 April 2016


Le Monde reports that the Panama Papers name associates of President Bouteflika in connection with oil transactions.


Refus de visa: Le Monde a «porté atteinte au prestige» de Bouteflika, selon Alger 
Le Monde, 10 April 2016

Panama papers: le refus de visas à des journalistes est une atteinte à la liberté de la presse, selon Ayrault 
Le Monde, 10 April 2016

Valls en Algérie, dans un climat tendu entre les deux pays et avec la presse française 
Le Monde, 9 April 2016

Algeria bans French journalist in row over Panama Papers 
Reuters, 8 April 2016

Les Africains du Panama (2): ces ministres en Algérie et en Angola clients de Mossack Fonseca 
Joan Tilouine, Le Monde, 4 April 2016

Panama Papers : en Algérie, l’argent du pétrole passe par l’offshore 
Le Monde, 4 April 2016


Alaa Mubarak
Son of former president Hosni Mubarak

Offshore company triggered investigations by financial authorities. 

Alaa Mubarak owned the British Virgin Islands firm Pan World Investments Inc., managed by Credit Suisse. In 2011, the year in which his father resigned the Egyptian presidency and was arrested along with Alaa and another son, BVI authorities told Mossack Fonseca to freeze Pan World's assets, an order prompted by a European Union law. In 2013, Mossack Fonseca was fined $37,500 for failing to properly check into Alaa Mubarak, "a high risk customer." Internally, Mossack Fonseca admitted its procedures were "seriously flawed" as Mubarak hadn't been identified early enough. Credit Suisse, however, wrote Mossack Fonseca that Pan World's activities – "one investment with HIG Venture Fund" and a cash account with the bank – did not contravene Switzerland's freeze on Mubarak's assets. In 2014, a second BVI agency started investigating Mossack Fonseca and Pan World. Company employees admitted internally that they could be found "in further breaches." Noting they had "very little control" over Mubarak's company, they resigned as its agent in April 2015.

Response: Mubarak did not respond to repeated requests for comment.


Mubarak loyalist declares Panama Papers a 'conspiracy' 
Albawaba, 6 April 2016

Mubarak sons could face questioning over 'Panama Papers' revelations 
El-Sayed Gamal el-Din, Ahram Online , 5 April 2016

Panama Papers expose the Mubaraks, tycoons and banks  
Abdel Razek al-Shuwekhi, Daily News Egypt, 4 April 2016

Egypt: Mubarak's son exposed in 'Panama Papers' leak 
Aswat Masriya, 4 April 2016

Behind the Panama Papers: The full story of the Mubarak sons' tax-sheltered company
Mada Masr, 4 April 2016

Alaa Mubarak among political figures exposed in Panama Papers leak 
Mada Masr, 3 April 2016


Ayad Allawi
Vice-President of Iraq (2014-2015); Interim Prime Minister of Iraq (2004-2005)

Firms created in Panama held property in London. 

Mossack Fonseca supplied his 1985 Panama-registered company I.M.F. Holdings Inc. with people who stood in for Allawi as directors. He was listed as the sole shareholder in 2000. Until its dissolution in 2013, I.M.F. owned a house in Kingston upon Thames, England . As of April 2013 the property appeared under the name of Allawi and had an estimated value of about $1.5 million . Allawi’s other offshore company, Moonlight Estates Limited, also held a property in London on his behalf . Documents for this BVI-registered entity identify the source of funds as personal savings.

Response: Allawi's media office confirmed that he "is the sole director and shareholder of Foxwood Estates Limited, Moonlight Estates Limited and IMF Holdings Inc." The email noted that IMF was established to own residential property purchased with Allawi's personal assets based on security and legal advice "in light of an assassination attempt on him." It also said that "any income generated in the United Kingdom from the properties owned by the companies has been properly accounted for" and "taxes have been paid promptly and on time."


Iraqi 'Panama Papers journalist' sacked for helping expose government corruption 
The New Arab, 10 April 2016 

Iyad Allawi, ex-Iraqi VP, named in Panama Papers 
Rudaw, 10 April 2016 


Ali Abu al-Ragheb
Prime Minister of Jordan and Minister of Defence (2000-2003); Member, Senate (2003-2010)

Al-Ragheb was director of offshore companies in British Virgin Islands, owned others in Seychelles. 

In July 2003, just months before he resigned as prime minister, Ali Abu al-Ragheb and his wife Yusra became directors of the British Virgin Islands company Jaar Investment Ltd., which held an account with Arab Bank in Geneva, Switzerland. The company was inactivated in August 2008. Earlier in 2008 they became directors of Jay Investment Holdings Ltd also based in the British Virgin Islands. In neither case were the companies' activities identified. Until December 2014 al-Ragheb also owned three Seychelles companies. His children were involved as directors in several additional BVI companies, including Desertstar Investment Capital Ltd., which also held an account at Arab Bank in Geneva that was used to invest in Jordan.

Response: Al-Ragheb did not respond to repeated requests for comment. 


In Jordan, Panama Papers shine light on possible corruption 
Daoud Kuttab, International Press Institute, 11 April 2016

House committee urges gov’t to declare stand on Panama Papers 
Raed Omari, Jordan Times, 10 April 2016

Shaheen's Secret Paradise – Part 1: Refinerygate 
Radio al-Balad and Amman Net, April 2016 (also in Arabic)

Shaheen's Secret Paradise – Part 2: Shaheen empire's hidden companies 
Radio al-Balad and Amman Net, April 2016 (also in Arabic)

Jordan's refinery scandal 
Some background from 2010 (


Mounir Majidi
Personal secretary to King Mohammed VI 

British Virgin Islands company was used to purchase luxury 1930s schooner used by Morocco's king. 

In March 2006, Mounir Majidi received power of attorney privileges for SMCD Limited, which was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in 2005. In January 2006, SMCD Limited authorized the purchase of a luxury 1930s schooner “Aquarius W” and put Majidi in charge of handling the transaction. After the purchase, the vessel was registered in Morocco. Renamed “El Boughaz I,” the schooner is now owned by King Mohammed VI. SMCD Limited was also used to make a loan for an unknown purpose to a Luxembourg-based company, Logimed Investments Co., Sàrl. SMCD Limited was liquidated in 2013. Majidi was also administrator of a Luxembourg company called Immobiliere Orion S.A., which borrowed $42 million in 2003 from a Mossack Fonseca-incorporated company to buy and renovate a luxury Paris apartment. It is unclear who owned the company that lent the money.

Response: A lawyer for Majidi said, "The two companies to which you refer were created in strict accordance with laws in place and their existence is available from public registers."


Affaire Panama Papers, projets de Renault au Maroc: Les coïncidences d'une visite 
Le Temps d'Algérie, 10 April 2016

Maroc: Panama Papers: circulez, il n’y a rien à voir 
Mohamed Takadoum, Agoravox, 8 April 2016

Panama papers: Richard Attias, le offshore sans complexe 
Anne Michel and Joan Tilouine, Le Monde, 8 April 2016

Morocco: Deals revealed in Panama Papers legal & transparent 
Geraldine Boechat, Medafrica Times, 7 April 2016

Panama Papers : Faouzi Chaâbi pas au courant, Bendidi et Bennani Smires en voyage 
Yabiladi, 7 April 2016

Panama Papers: Hicham Naciri, avocat du secrétariat particulier du roi, s'explique 
Medias24, 7 April 2016

Panama Papers : L’avocat de Mounir Majidi explique le recours aux sociétés offshore par un souci de discrétion 
Yabiladi, 7 April 2015

Pourquoi les «Panama Papers» ne choquent pas au Maroc 
Fahd Iraqi and Nadia Lamlili, Jeune Afrique, 6 April 2016

Maroc: Le ministre de la Justice n’est pas au courant de l'affaire Panama Papers 
Yabiladi, 6 April 2016

Maroc: Mohammed VI aime les îles Vierges  
Le Monde,4 April 2016

Mounir Majidi, el jefe de los negocios del rey de Marruecos, aparece en los Documentos de Panamá
El Diario, 3 April 2016


Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani
Prime Minister of Qatar (2007-2013); Foreign Minister of Qatar (1992-2013)

Offshore company used to manage $300 million yacht

In 2002 , Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani acquired a company in the British Virgin Islands and three additional companies in the Bahamas. Through these companies, Al Thani held shares and mooring spaces in the Spanish port of Palma, Mallorca, and managed his super-yacht, the $300 million Al Mirqab. Al Thani took over management of these companies in 2004, dissolving them a few years later. In 2011, when Qatar started investing in Luxembourg companies, Al Thani acquired four Panamanian companies to hold bank accounts in the Grand Duchy, two of which he owned with the then-Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, according to documents from July 2013.

Response: An attorney for Al Thani said in a phone interview that he doesn't "have the right" to answer questions posed because he is "bound by professional secrecy."

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani
Former Emir of the State of Qatar (1995–2013)

Offshore company held a bank account; South African companies' shares. 

In March 2014, less than a year after Al Thani resigned as Qatar’s ruler, a Luxembourg lawyer contacted Mossack Fonseca to convey Al Thani's interest in buying an off-the-shelf company registered in the British Virgin Islands. The company the former emir acquired, Afrodille S.A., would hold a bank account in Luxembourg and shares in two South African companies, according to the lawyer. From September 2013, Al Thani was also the majority shareholder of Rienne S.A. and of Yalis S.A., which held a term deposit with the Bank of China in Luxembourg, according to the files. While Al Thani held majority ownership in both companies, a 25 percent stake in each was held by another family member, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, Qatar’s former prime minister and foreign minister.

Response: The ex-Emir did not respond to a request for comment


Panama Papers leak helps show that Qatar's former prime minister is a billionaire 
Chloe Sorvino, Forbes, 13 April 2016

Saudi Arabia

King Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud
King of Saudi Arabia (2015-present); Crown Prince (2012-2015)

British Virgin Islands company used for mortgages on luxury homes in London and to hold yacht. 

King Salman held an unspecific role in Luxembourg company Safason Corporation SPF S.A., which was the shareholder of Verse Development Corporation, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in 1999, and Inrow Corporation, incorporated in 2002. Inrow took out a mortgage in 2009 worth up to $26 million and Verse took out a second mortgage worth more than $8 million both of which were for luxury homes in central London. While King Salman's precise role is not specified, both mortgages are mentioned "in relation to" him and his assets. King Salman was also described as "the principal user" of a motor yacht, Erga, named after the King’s palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and registered in London by the BVI company Crassus Limited, incorporated in 2004. The records of another BVI company, Park Property Limited, incorporated in 2005 and of which Safason Corporation was the sole shareholder, were kept at Erga Palace.

Response: King Salman did not respond to repeated requests made through the Saudi Embassy in the United States for comment.


Saudi King, UAE President at the Center of the Panama Papers 
Telesur, 4 April 2016


Ahmad Ali al-Mirghani [deceased]
President of Sudan (1986-1989)

Offshore company owned a London apartment. 

Al-Mirghani was the owner of the British Virgin Islands company Orange Star Corporation, created in 1995. That same year, Orange Star Corporation purchased a long lease of an apartment in an expensive area of London north of Hyde Park for more than $600,000 . At the time of al-Mirghani’s death, he held assets through the company worth $2.72 million.

Response: Al-Mirghani's estate did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Al-Mirghani died in 2008.


Former Sudanese president cited as ‘power player’ in Panama Papers
Dabanga, 4 April 2016


Rami and Hafez Makhlouf
Relatives of President Assad

Companies held large variety of business interests for brothers

In 1998 Rami Makhlouf used Polter Investments Inc. to invest in Syrian telecommunications with Jordanian investors. In 2002, Makhlouf co-founded Syriatel, a Syrian mobile telecom company. He held 10 percent of the shares personally and another 63 percent through his British Virgin Island company Drex Technologies S.A. The same year, Makhlouf's co-investors in Syriatel sued him in Vienna where his Drex Technologies bank account held $2.6 million. He had also opened an account for Drex at HSBC in Geneva, Switzerland. Makhlouf also held accounts at HSBC for Lorie Limited, Dorling International Limited, and Ramak Ltd., named after Makhlouf's company in Syria, Ramak Contracting & Trading. HSBC handled Cara Corporation, where he was a director; Seadale International Corporation, which he owned with his brothers, Eagle Trading & Contracting Limited owned by Hafez and Hoxim Lane Management Corp. for another brother. Beginning in February 2011, employees at Mossack Fonseca discussed via email allegations of bribery and corruption made against members of the Makhlouf family and sanctions that had previously been imposed by the U.S. Treasury Department. In June the same year, the BVI Financial Services Commission wrote to Mossack Fonseca regarding an investigation under anti-money laundering laws into Drex Technologies S.A., prompting Mossack Fonseca to cut ties with the Makhlouf family's companies.

Response: Hafez and Rami Makhlouf did not respond to repeated requests for comment.


Panama Papers link Assad’s fixer to arms-dealers and money launderers 
The New Arab, 13 April 2016 

Syria: Al-Assad Family’s Massive Stolen Wealth in Panama Papers helps explain Revolution 
Juan Cole (Informed Comment), 6 April 2016

All the dictator's men: Who runs Assad's sanctions-busting network? 
The New Arab, 5 April 2016

‘Panama Papers show Syria regime circumvented sanctions’
The National, 5 April 2016 

Syria's Assad used Panama law firm to get round international sanctions 
Mail Online, 5 April 2016

Mossack Fonseca serviced Assad cousin's firms despite Syria corruption fears 
The Guardian, 5 April 2016

Assad’s London fixer uses offshore firms to hold luxury London flats 
The Guardian, 5 April 2016

Syria's government funded air war through blacklisted offshore accounts 
Middle East Eye, 4 April 2016

« Panama papers » en Syrie: comment le clan Assad contourne les sanctions internationales 
Le Monde, 4 April 2016

United Arab Emirates

Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan
President of the United Arab Emirates and emir of Abu Dhabi (2000-present)

British Virgin Islands companies used to buy luxury real estate and other properties. 

Sheikh Khalifa was the beneficial owner of at least 30 companies established in the British Virgin Islands by Mossack Fonseca, through which he held commercial and residential properties in pricey areas of London such as Kensington and Mayfair, worth at least $1.7 billion. The Sheikh financed his acquisitions through loans from the London branch of the National Bank of Abu Dhabi and the Royal Bank of Scotland. Until 2007, Mossack Fonseca provided companies that acted as directors and shareholders of the Sheikh's BVI companies. By December 2015, nearly all the shares in those companies were held by Mossack Fonseca through trust structures, but the true beneficiary remained the Sheikh, as well as his wife, son and daughter. In 2011 Mossack Fonseca wrote that the law firm handling Sheikh Al Nahyan's affairs was "usually hesitant" in providing information about his identity.

Response: A UK law firm representing Al Nahyan, contacted by phone, said it was "unable to help" with comments.


Panama papers: Richard Attias, le offshore sans complexe 
Anne Michel and Joan Tilouine, Le Monde, 8 April 2016

Saudi King, UAE President at the Center of the Panama Papers 
Telesur, 4 April 2016

Panama Papers: Quebec lawyer based in Dubai linked to Mossack Fonseca 
CBC News, 4 April 2016


Shaher and Abduljalil Abdulhak 

The Abdulhak brothers, Shaher and Abduljalil, are among the wealthiest and most prominent business figures in Yemen, not least because of their connections with former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

While the brothers control key businesses in Yemen their investments span several continents and they have used shell companies registered offshore for many years, to apply for and win government contracts, according to an investigation by Alaraby.

Shaher's son, Farouk, is wanted by the authorities in Britain and Norway for questioning in connection with the alleged rape and murder of Martine Vik Magnussen, a Norwegian woman and daughter of another billionaire. 


Panama Papers: Financing chaos in Yemen with 'The Sugar Kings' 
Baraa Shiban, The New Arab, 11 April 2016 

Murder, tax-evasion, cronyism: Yemen's 'Sugar Kings' implicated in PanamaPapers 
The New Arab, 6 April 2016 (also in Arabic)