Prince Charles has become embroiled in a fresh donations scandal, after it emerged a Russian businessman previously convicted of money laundering tried to donate half a million pounds to his charities.
The heir to the throne wrote a fulsome thank you letter to Dmitry Leus last year after the 51-year-old banker donated £535,000 to The Prince’s Foundation and offered to meet him in person once the pandemic lockdown was over.
However, the ethics committee of the foundation later concluded they could not accept the money once they discovered Mr Leus had been convicted of money laundering in his native Russia, although the conviction was later overturned.
But rather than return the six-figure donation, it appears to have been diverted elsewhere, with the deputy executive director of The Prince’s Foundation, Chris Martin, telling Mr Leus it had been passed on to another of Prince Charles’s charities, Children & the Arts, The Sunday Times has reported.
This organisation has denied it ever received the cash and has said it is in the process of being wound up instead.
The revelations come just one week after the heir to the throne’s most trusted aide Michael Fawcett was forced to resign following allegations he helped secure a CBE for a Saudi billionaire who had donated £1.5m to Prince Charles’s charities.
According to The Sunday Times, Mr Leus made his donations after he was promised by a middle-man he would get a private meeting with Prince Charles at a Scottish castle.
It has also reported Mr Fawcett has been advising the banker on how to improve his reputation and introducing him to charity executives to whom he could make other donations.
The Prince’s Foundation has now launched an investigation into its dealings with Mr Leus, while Clarence House said in a statement to the newspaper: “The Prince of Wales fully supports the investigation now under way at the foundation.”
But this has not mollified the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), which has begun a formal investigation into the foundation.
In a statement, the OSCR said: ““It is the responsibility of all charity trustees, the people who manage and control a charity, to act at all times in the interests of the charity and comply with their legal duties in doing so.
“In particular, they must ensure that all funds are spent in achieving the charity’s purposes, and ensure that grants or donations are used in line with any conditions imposed. We will consider what, if any, further action is appropriate for us to take when we have been able to fully consider information provided to us by the charity.”
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