New allegations have surfaced a week after Prince Charles' closest adviser resigned as the chairman of the royal charity amid suspicions of wrongdoing. The Prince's Foundation, one of Prince Charles' organizations, is being probed after receiving a large gift from a notorious Russian banker in exchange for a castle meeting.
Prince Charles wrote Dmitry Leus a thank-you note in which he expressed his gratitude for his "immense generosity" and that his $175,000 contribution provided him with "much comfort." According to the report, Leus was previously convicted of money laundering in Russia in 2004; but his sentence was overturned three years later.
Charity refutes allegations of accepting Russian banker's donation
The Prince Charles' charity, on the other hand, stated it no longer held the £535,000 ($742,000) gift and had previously claimed it had been returned to source after its ethics committee expressed concerns about Leus' eligibility as a contributor.
Leus had previously been convicted of money laundering in Russia, but his conviction was overturned. The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator is currently looking into the Foundation's ties with Leus, according to The Times.
Russian billionaire Dmitry Leus donated more than £500,000 ($693,287) to the Prince's Foundation after a hired fixer promised him a meeting with Prince Charles. Since then, the Prince's Foundation has disputed this number, claiming that it only got £100,000 $139,000 from Leus. "Word has reached me that you have very generously decided to support the work of my Foundation," Prince Charles wrote to Leus following his financial contribution on May 18, 2020, as per Daily Mail.
William Bortrick, the mastermind behind the arrangement and chairman of Burke's Peerage, delayed the first £100,000 ($138,657) of Leus' gift before sending the balance. Bortrick was invited to the Queen Mother's home in Caithness, Scotland, where he met Prince Charles and his gardener a few weeks later.
Chris Martin, the charity's executive director, is said to have expressed concern about Leus and advised Bortrick to remove any online trail linking Leus to the Prince's Foundation. Despite the ethical issues and banned donations, Prince Charles' right-hand man Michael Fawcett set up an initial meeting with Leus and the Prince's Foundation to accept his donation.
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Bortrick allegedly encouraged Leus to be honest about his prior money laundering connections, which were later reversed, and that the Foundation was "likely" to take any "clean money."
After the organization's ethics committee rejected the gifts, top administrators allegedly transferred the money to the Children & the Arts, a charity that Prince Charles is a supporter of.
Per Newsweek via MSN, the Prince's Foundation started its inquiry after the accusations earlier this month, and Fawcett stepped down temporarily while the probe was underway. Some of the most incendiary allegations so far include claims that Fawcett promised to assist a Saudi millionaire to get a knighthood and citizenship in exchange for contributions.
Internally, the Prince's Foundation's executive director, Chris Martin, is said to have voiced worry about Leus and instructed Bortrick to erase any web trace tying Leus to the organization. Despite the ethical issues and banned donations, Prince Charles' right-hand man Michael Fawcett set up an initial meeting with Leus and the Prince's Foundation to accept his donation.
Leus, who was born in Turkmenistan and holds Russian and Israeli citizenship, entered the United Kingdom using a European Union passport issued by Cyprus. In return for a meeting, Leus has refused to donate to the Prince's Foundation.