Prince Charles allegedly accepted a suitcase carrying $1.6 million from a Qatari politician
The Prince of Wales is said to have received three separate cash payments from a former Prime Minister. Photo/Getty Images
Prince Charles’ acceptance of a suitcase containing 1 million euros ($1.67 million) in cash from a Qatari sheikh is to be investigated by the Charity Commission.
The Prince of Wales is said to have received three separate cash payments from a former prime minister in the Gulf state totaling more than £2.5million ($5million), which were then donated to his charity.
The heir to the throne reportedly personally accepted cash donations for the Prince of Wales Charity Fund between 2011 and 2015 from Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, who served as Prime Minister of Qatar between 2007 and 2013.
Clarence House said the donations were “handed over immediately” to the charity, which “put the proper governance in place and assured us that all the correct processes were followed”.
There are no suggestions of wrongdoing by either side, but the details have raised further questions about the judgment of the future king.
The Sunday Times reported that on one occasion money from “HBJ”, as Sheikh Hamad is called, was stuffed into Fortnum and Mason bags.
Sources have told The Telegraph that some of the details of the transfers are disputed and the prince maintains he did not break any rules.
The meetings at which the money was handed over were private and therefore do not appear in the court circular. During a 2015 meeting at Clarence House, the 73-year-old prince reportedly accepted a holdall containing 1 million euros.
It is alleged that the money was handed over to royal aides who counted the now abandoned €500 notes, which were named “bin Laden” due to links to terrorist financing.
A former adviser who handled some of the money said ‘everyone felt very uncomfortable about the situation’.
Coutts Private Bank, which has served the Royal Family for decades, then collected the money and it was paid into the accounts of the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund (PWCF). There is no indication that the payments were illegal.
The PWCF is a grant-making charity which has funded a number of the Prince’s personal projects, including Dumfries House in Scotland.
A spokesperson for the Charity Commission said last night: ‘We are aware of reports of donations received by The Prince of Wales Charity Foundation. We will review the information to determine if the Commission has any role to play in this matter “.
Charities can accept cash donations, and the regulator gives guidance to trustees on how they must handle donations in accordance with the law.
Sheikh Hamad, 62, one of the world’s richest men, oversaw Qatari investments in some of London’s top real estate during his tenure, including Harrods and The Shard.
But his tenure has also been marred by allegations against the emirate of funding the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda and bribery and corruption surrounding the 2022 World Cup bid.
It is the second time this year that the prince’s charitable donations have come into question, with the Metropolitan Police currently investigating allegations of money for honours.
Michael Fawcett, a close confidant of the Prince, is said to have tried to secure a CBE for Saudi billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, who had given more than £1.5million to the charity Prince’s Foundation.
The PWCF did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday.
“No governance failure”
Sir Ian Cheshire, the director, told The Sunday Times that they “have verified this event in the past and confirmed that former directors of PWCF discussed governance and the relationship with donors, confirming that the donor was a legitimate and verified counterparty and our auditors validated the donation after a specific investigation during the audit. There was no failure of governance”.
Charity Commission guidelines say trustees should consider whether donations are made through an “unusual payment mechanism” or come from countries with weak financial regulations.
It states that administrators must declare donations of £25,000 if it is an “unusually large single donation or a series of smaller donations from a source which you cannot identify or verify” .
The Royal Gifts Policy states that members of the Royal Family can accept checks for charitable causes, but does not mention cash.
Speaking from the G7 summit in Germany, Boris Johnson’s official spokesman declined to comment on allegations under a longstanding convention that the Prime Minister does not address royal issues.
The spokesperson also declined to say whether Johnson himself would accept charitable donations from a briefcase full of cash.
Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, said it was none of the government’s business but he was confident the donations would have followed “due process”.
A Coutts spokesperson said any cash payment “is subject to careful review and oversight.”