Prince Andrew’s £1.5m loan ‘paid off by firms linked to Tory donor’

Report claims loan was ‘unusual’ but approved as it could open up ‘further business potential with the royal family’

Celine Wadhera
Wednesday 17 November 2021 08:57
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<p>Prince Andrew, Duke of York, outside the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor </p>

Prince Andrew, Duke of York, outside the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor

A £1.5m loan taken out by the Duke of York was paid off by firms linked to a major Tory donor, it has been claimed.

Bloomberg reported that in 2017, Prince Andrew took out a personal loan with the Luxembourg-based Banque Havilland. But it was paid off 11 days later by companies associated with David Rowland, the bank’s founder and a major Tory donor, the report added.

The financial news company said it had seen documents that confirmed these transactions had taken place, noting that funds had been wired to the prince’s London account via an account held by Albany Reserves Ltd, a company where Mr Rowland is listed as a director.

Former Banque Havilland employees told Bloomberg that the loan was unusual, as unsecured loans were rarely - if ever - made. Moreover, a note on an internal credit report is said to have stated that it was “not in line with the risk appetite of the bank” but was approved as it opened up “further business potential with the royal family”.

“While the loan is unsecured and granted solely against the credibility of the applicant, both his position and that his mother is the sovereign monarch of the United Kingdom should provide access to funds for repayment if need be,” the note said.

The loan’s repayment was not due until March 2018 but was repaid after only 11 days through a transfer of £1,503,000 from a Guernsey-registered company, which was controlled by Mr Rowland’s family, a former employee told Bloomberg.

Mr Rowland, a property magnate and banker, and the duke have enjoyed a close friendship for some time. Andrew was the guest of honour at the official opening of Banque Havilland in 2009, while Mr Rowland had a front row seat at the wedding of prince’s youngest daughter, Princess Eugenie, at St George’s chapel in Windsor Castle in 2018.

In between, Andrew is said to have opened a number of doors to Mr Rowland and his businesses.

The duke stepped down from all public engagement in 2019 following allegations of sexual abuse related to his friendship with late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Prince Andrew has consistently denied wrongdoing.

The royal is now understood to take in some £270,000 annually, through a combination of a stipend from his mother and his naval pension, yet appears to continue to live a luxurious lifestyle.

Mr Rowland is understood to be a multimillionaire who has donated more than £6m to the Conservative party in recent years.

With attention on this loan repayment, questions have been raised about potential conflicts of interest within the duke’s social circle, and some are calling on parliament to investigate the matter.

Former UK government minister Norman Baker told Bloomberg: “This demonstrates yet again that significant questions need to be asked about Prince Andrew’s business dealings and his association with some dubious characters.

“Parliament should investigate this matter with some urgency.”

The Independent could not immediately reach the Duke of York for comment, but a spokesperson told Bloomberg that Andrew was “entitled to a degree of privacy in conducting his entirely legitimate personal financial affairs, on which all appropriate accounting measures are taken and all taxes are duly paid” and declined to comment on the transactions.

A spokesperson from Banque Havilland said: “Due to relevant laws and regulations the bank cannot comment on alleged clients or transactions. Like all financial institutions, we are subject to routine inspections and audits and provide all necessary disclosures.

“Compliance with legal and regulatory requirements are the foremost priority of the bank. Any inference of wrongdoing is categorically denied.”

The Conservative Party declined to comment and Bloomberg reported that Mr Rowland did not respond to emails or text messages inquiring about the loan repayment.

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