UK police launch investigation into Prince Charles charity

The probe will assess claims of a cash-for-honours scandal involving a Saudi businessman.

The UK's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales
Charles's foundation helps jobless people get back into work and start small businesses [File: Peter Cziborra/pool/AFP]

British police have launched an investigation into Prince Charles’s charitable foundation over claims of a cash-for-honours scandal involving a businessman from Saudi Arabia.

“The decision follows an assessment of a September 2021 letter. This related to media reporting alleging offers of help were made to secure honours and citizenship for a Saudi national,” Scotland Yard said in a statement on Wednesday, delivering another blow to the royal family.

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There have been no arrests or interviews under caution, police added.

The head of The Prince’s Foundation resigned last year after an internal investigation into the allegations.

Michael Fawcett, chief executive of the foundation, had initially agreed to suspend his duties following newspaper revelations about his links to a Saudi national.

The man, tycoon Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, had donated large sums to restoration projects of particular interest to Charles.

Fawcett, a former valet to the Prince of Wales who has been close to Queen Elizabeth II’s heir for decades, is alleged to have coordinated efforts to grant a royal honour and even UK citizenship to Mahfouz.

Former royal servant Michael Fawcett
Fawcett is alleged to have coordinated efforts to grant a royal honour and even UK citizenship to Mahfouz [File: David Bebber/DB/CL/THI via Reuters]

Mahfouz has reportedly denied any wrongdoing.

The royal family is already reeling following Prince Andrew’s decision on Tuesday to settle a sexual abuse claim out of court, a scandal that has so far overshadowed Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Charles’s foundation, which helps jobless people get back into work and start small businesses, said it took the claims “very seriously”.

The Charities Commission, which registers and oversees charities in England and Wales, said in November it had opened a formal probe into donations received by Mahfouz’s charitable trust which were intended for the prince’s foundation.

The inquiry will examine whether “certain donations received by the Mahfouz Foundation were intended for the charity, have been used in accordance with the donors’ intentions and if they should be returned to the donor or otherwise applied for charitable purposes”.

According to the commission, the Mahfouz Foundation was set up “to promote and advance the education of the public in the United Kingdom in the culture, history, language, literature and institutions of the Middle East”.

The Scottish body

The Prince’s Foundation, set up in 1986, is not regulated by the Charities Commission but is registered with the Scottish Charity Regulator.

The Scottish body in September launched its own probe into reports that the foundation accepted cash from a Russian banker previously convicted of money laundering.

Charles reportedly wrote a letter thanking Dmitry Leus for the money and suggested they could meet after the coronavirus pandemic.

The foundation’s ethics committee declined the donation after discovering Leus’s conviction in Russia in 2004.

The conviction was overturned and he has claimed he was the victim of a politically motivated prosecution.

Source: News Agencies