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Identity revealed of Saudis who amassed Florida real estate empire through shell companies

The Falcon’s Fire golf course at 3200 Seralago Blvd, Kissimmee, FL (Falcons Fire)

Saudi nationals with close ties to the royal family bought swaths of land around Orlando, Florida in the late 1990s. Their identities have been a mystery until now.

They are the Ibrahim family, one of the most influential families in Saudi Arabia, according to the Miami Herald. The newspaper pinpointed their identity through the Pandora Papers, a trove of 11.9 million documents leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that detail secret offshore accounts of world leaders and other influential figures.

While operating through offshore companies helps obscure ownership of companies and can reduce taxes on investments, doing so isn’t illegal.

The leak exposed the assets of people, including Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso, singer Julio Inglesias, Jordanian King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, and some domestic companies. 

The Ibrahim family includes prominent businessmen including Khalid I. Al-Ibrahim and his brother,Waleed Al-Ibrahim, who was caught in 2017’s purges in Saudi Arabia. Their sister, Jawhara bint Ibrahim Al-Ibrahim, was one of the wives of the late King Fahd, who died in 2005.

Florida doesn’t require companies to reveal owners, according to the Herald, which found 75 companies with apparent links to the Ibrahims, 55 of which are currently active. The family’s name appears in documents associated with just two of the firms.

The 55 companies own 95 parcels in counties surrounding Orlando, estimated to be valued at about $65 million. They include undeveloped land and two golf courses, MetroWest and Falcon’s Fire. They also owned at least seven apartment buildings that they recently sold.

Florida attorney C. David Brown II, a prominent Republican fundraiser and close associate of former Governor Jeb Bush, represented the family in their investments in the state.

[Miami Herald] — Dennis Lynch