Chelsy Davy's father faces inquiry into business deals

Basildon Peta,Cahal Milmo
Friday 21 April 2006 00:00
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The father of Prince Harry's girlfriend, Chelsy Davy, is facing financial disaster and possible imprisonment after the Zimbabwean government announced that it was investigating him for illegal currency dealing.

Charles Davy has accumulated a multimillion-dollar fortune through his big game hunting business, HHK Safaris, which survived the wholesale seizure of white-owned farms and game reserves under the regime of Robert Mugabe.

But any protection once extended to Mr Davy's company through his business relationship with Webster Shamu, a senior minister in the Zimbabwean government, seems to have evaporated. The country's anti-corruption minister, Paul Mangwana, announced yesterday he was placing the South African-born entrepreneur under investigation for the illegal export of large sums of foreign currency.

Mr Davy's close links to Mr Mugabe's government have been the cause of unease in Britain after the two-year relationship between his 20-year-old daughter, an undergraduate at Cape Town University, and Prince Harry was made public. Officials are known to have expressed concern that, if the love affair heads towards marriage, any links between the Royal Family and the Mugabe regime would be unthinkable.

Mr Davy, whose company has prospered from charging mostly American clients £17,000 for a 24-day shooting expedition in the Zimbabwean savannah, has recently distanced himself from HHK by selling his holding in the company.

The Zimbabwe investigation is thought to have been sparked by an HHK employee, who alleged much of the firm's foreign currency earnings were being channelled outside Zimbabwe and traded illegally.

It follows remarks made to an undercover reporter for a British Sunday newspaper this month by another HHK worker in which he appeared to confirm the vast majority of the company's earnings were diverted away from Zimbabwe into American bank accounts.

Ade Langley, a professional hunter working for HHK, told the Mail on Sunday: "Less than 20 per cent of your dollars will ever enter Zimbabwe. All the money is kept offshore."

It also appears that Mr Davy's contacts within the Mugabe government, mainly Webster Shamu, the minister for policy implementation, are unhappy with how he has run the affairs of the company.

Mr Davy has been the subject of questions about how his business has survived during a purge which has seen the number of white-owned businesses in Zimbabwe fall from 4,500 to 350 in the last decade.

The safari owner recently issued a robust defence of his relationship with Mr Shamu, a long-term ally of Mr Mugabe and a shareholder in HHK, saying he considered him a personal friend and denying that he had any political input.

An HHK official, Graham Hingeston, claimed that Mr Davy was no longer a shareholder of the business after disposing of the equity that has helped him earn an estimated £20m. And Mr Hingeston also claimed to an American hunting magazine that Mr Shamu was never a joint venture investor but just a "front man".

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