The Prince of Wales accepted bags containing millions of euros in cash during meetings with a senior Qatari politician, according to a report.
Prince Charles was said to have been given a total of €3m (£2.6m) during meetings with Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani, the former prime minister of Qatar.
The cash was handed to the heir to the British throne in a suitcase on one occasion, a holdall on another, as well as in Fortnum & Mason carrier bags, the up-market department store which holds a Royal Warrant to supply the prince’s household with groceries.
The handovers are alleged to have occurred during meetings between the two men, including a private one-to-one meeting at Clarence House in 2015, it was claimed.
In a statement, a Clarence House spokesman said the money given during the 2015 meeting was “passed immediately to one of the prince’s charities who carried out the appropriate covenants and assured us that all the correct processes were followed”.
The suitcase containing the cash was given to two of Charles’ advisers who are said to have hand-counted the money. Palace aides are said to have asked Coutts, the private bank which acts for the royal family, to collect the cash.
Each payment was deposited into the accounts of the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund (PWCF). There is no suggestion the payments were illegal, the Sunday Times reported today.
The sheikh, one of the richest people in the world, was dubbed the “man who bought London” after he used his wealth, as well as his influence on the Qatari Wealth fund, to make huge investments in London including the Shard, Harrods and the InterContinental London Park Lane. He is the owner of one of the world’s richest football clubs, Paris Saint-Germain.
There is no evidence the sheikh did not intend the monies to go to the charity and Hamad was unavailable for comment, it was reported.
The chair of the trustees to the charity confirmed to the newspaper that the 2015 donation was made and then the trustees, who have a legal duty to protect the charity’s reputation, “discussed the governance and donor relationship, (confirming that the donor was a legitimate and verified counterparty) and our auditors signed off on the donation after a specific enquiry during the audit. There was no failure of governance”.
The charity is said to have confirmed the 2015 donation was made in cash at the “donor’s choice”.
Charles and Hamad are said to have a relationship going back several decades. In 2010, Charles was said to have lobbied Hamad to shelve the £3bn redevelopment of London’s Chelsea Barracks – writing a letter in which he told the country’s then prime minister that the state-backed Qatari Diar’s proposed steel-and-glass design “made my heart sink”. Charles later met the emir of Qatar for tea at Clarence House where the topic was raised once again. Qatar subsequently pulled the plans, prompting the Candy brothers, who were overseeing the development, to launch a £81m lawsuit. In it, they accused Qatar of caving in to the prince’s demands.
The latest claims come at an embarrassing time for the prince. Clarence House has rebutted claims of a “cash-for-access” culture in his organisation, with the Metropolitan Police and Charity Commission investigating fundraising practices, including the sale of honours. It has been alleged that Charles’s closest confidant, Michael Fawcett, secured an honour for a Saudi billionaire.
Fawcett resigned from his position in Charles’s inner circle in March 2003, after a report by Sir Michael Peat identified mismanagement at Clarence House. The Peat inquiry found that Fawcett had accepted “numerous gifts in the course of his royal service”, but cleared him of any financial impropriety. Fawcett continued to work for Charles on a freelance basis as a fixer and party planner.