A source in the British Royal Palace said that cash donations to the British Crown Prince Charitable Foundation would no longer be accepted.
It came in the wake of reports and news in the British media that the former Prime Minister of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, donated more than three million dollars in cash to the Prince Charles Foundation between 2011 and 2015 in three payments, some of which were in plastic shopping bags.
But this is not the first time that there has been an uproar over financial donations to the institutions of the British Crown Prince, as the British metropolitan police opened an investigation last February into allegations that the Prince Charity Foundation is the Saudi businessman Mahfouz bin Marei bin Mahfouz helped. to obtain a British medal in exchange for the donation Hundreds of thousands of pounds to the foundation.
The investigation is still ongoing, with police confirming that the investigation addresses possible violations of the 1925 Act on the Awarding of Honors and Tributes.
The Crown Prince Charles Foundation said it was “inappropriate to comment on an ongoing investigation”, adding that it was continuing to work with police on the matter.
For some, the generous donations to the numerous political parties and charities, some of which are linked to members of the royal family, represent an entry point for mingling with the political class or members of the aristocracy and monarchy in Britain, and whoever has a lot of money will find someone who opens the closed doors for him.
While foreigners are not entitled to donate to British political parties, charities have been exempted from this requirement.
So far, the police investigations do not include the Saudi empire Mahfouz bin Marei or its charitable foundation, but are limited to the investigation into the activities of the Prince Charles Foundation.
British newspapers published in February were full of reports and details of Prince Charles’ relationship with the 52-year-old Saudi businessman and his generous donations to the numerous charities associated with the prince, who are interested in the restoration of palaces, castles and historic buildings in Britain.
The press reports also dealt with the major role that mediators and brokers play in opening communication channels between the prince and the Saudi empires in exchange for receiving tens of thousands of pounds.
An internal inquiry by the Prince Charles Foundation revealed that there was contact and coordination between the then chairman of the foundation and the former private secretary of Prince Charles, Michael Fawcett, and mediators over the nomination of donors for titles and honors. during the period between 2014 and 2018, the period during which the Saudi billionaire was awarded the Order of the British Empire. .
Mahfouz bin Marei is a prominent Saudi businessman who belongs to a Saudi family that has been working in the field of trade and industry for many decades.
Mahfouz holds a doctorate in law from King’s College London, and runs a number of family-owned companies in the fields of hotels, real estate development and manufacturing.
The Saudi businessman’s efforts to obtain the British medal through paid intermediaries began in 2011, according to the Sunday Times.
In 2012, Mahfouz launched his own charity, which is concerned with “the spread of awareness and knowledge among the British people of the culture, history, language, literature and institutions of the Middle East”.
According to the Mail on Sunday newspaper, Mahfouz bin Marei donated about £ 1.5 million to Prince Charles’ charities, and most of the money went to the maintenance of two palaces owned by Charles in Scotland, Castle May (MEY). ) and Dumfries Palace, which is open to the public for visiting.
A water fountain was erected in the garden of the palace named Mahfouz Merhi in gratitude for his contribution to the restoration of the palace.
Part of the forest around Mai Castle was also called “Mahfouz Forest” in recognition that he had incurred the cost of repairing the castle’s windows.
Mahfouz was honored and crowned Honorary Commander of the British Empire in 2016 at Clarence House, the residence of the Crown Prince.
In November 2021, the Sunday Times newspaper published an extensive investigation into this issue, entitled “A Narrative of the Daily Process of Arranging Prince Charles’ Aides to Grant the Saudi Billionaire the Order of the British Empire,” in which the newspaper presented what it said. was correspondence between Charles’ assistants and bin Mahfouz’s assistants, including hundreds of pages of evidence relating to this case.
An independent investigation has revealed that Michael Fawcett, Charles’ assistant for decades and one of the top officials in his charity, coordinated with Ben Mahfouz’s agents to arrange donations in exchange for his title.
Last September, a letter by Fawcett to Mahfouz Marei’s assistant, Bousef Lamlum, appeared in August 2017, in which he stated: “In view of the continued and final generosity of His Excellency Sheikh Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, I am pleased to assure you that we are ready and pleased to support and contribute to the application for citizenship. I can also confirm that we are ready to submit a request for the rank of Order of Honor. to upgrade officer of the Order of His Excellency to the rank of Honorary Knight of the Empire in accordance with Her Majesty’s Committee on Honorary Titles. “
Fawcett resigned from his post after the letter was published in the Mail on Sunday newspaper last September.
Mahfouz Marei confirmed that he had not committed any offense and that he had donated to the Charles Charitable Foundation without expecting to receive any benefits or profits in return.
And Sheikh Marei, born in Yemen in 1944, is according to the website the sheikh of the Al Bin Mahfouz tribes in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
According to its website, the group is 18th on the list of the largest private companies in Saudi Arabia, and has activities in various fields and in dozens of countries.
Among the photos adorning the site is a photo of the father shaking hands with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, and another with Prince Charles, along with his five children.
There is a detailed breakdown of the positions held by the children and the academic and university degrees they hold.
The conclusion of the internal investigation carried out by the Prince Charles Charitable Foundation indicated that the audit committee considering donations to the foundation had returned the £ 100,000 donated by Russian businessman Dmitry Lewis, after initially donation accepted.
The Foundation said the refusal to donate came in light of new information it had seen, adding that the amount it received was £ 100,000, not half a million, as some press reports said.
The Foundation indicated that the amount was returned to the bank account from which it came, but the interesting thing was that this account belonged to the Mahfouz Bin Marei Charitable Foundation and not the Russian businessman Dmitry Lewis.
And press reports said that the former chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Directors (Michael Fawcett), who had been the prince’s closest associates for many years, and in collaboration with another employee of the Foundation, had transferred a sum of money which by Louis gift was donated by the Mahfouz Charitable Foundation at the expense of another charity sponsored by Prince Charles, the Arts Foundation and children. This was done without the knowledge or consent of the trustees of the Prince Charles Foundation and without the knowledge of the benefactor, the Russian businessman.
The Charity Oversight Committee is currently investigating the work and activities of the Children and Arts Association, as reports indicate that an employee of the Charles Foundation tampered with a letter of resignation that the Society sent to Louis for his donation, as the employee deleted everything indicates the role of the Mahfouz Foundation in the donation process.
The Prince Charles Foundation has said it has repaid the sum (£ 100,000) to the Mahfouz Foundation’s account, which came from its account, while lawyers for Russian businessman Dmitry Lewis say he has half a million pounds in good faith. donated to the Prince’s Charitable Foundation and that until recently he did not know the fate of the amount donated.
The Russian businessman has agreed with link man Michael Wayne Parker that the donation to the Charles Charitable Foundation will be made through a bank account belonging to the Burke Berg Foundation, which issues a guide for powerful families in British society. Burke-Berig denies any role in the donation process.
Lewis’s lawyers said when the “titles for money” scandal exploded in September 2021 that the Burke-Berg Foundation had not returned any money to their client and that it should pay the fate of the half a million pounds their client had donated public.
A few days later, a spokesman for the Mahfouz Foundation said the Foundation retains £ 300,000 of the amount donated by Lewis and the rest, £ 200,000, is in the possession of Wayne Parker, one of the former trustees of the Mahfouz Foundation.
The spokesman added: “The Mahfouz Foundation is holding £ 300,000 for Mr Lewis’ account and is awaiting instructions to return it.” Wayne Parker is also the trustee of the Lewis Charitable Foundation.
Following the recent revelation of this new information, Lewis’s lawyers said their client had not heard of Mahfouz’s charity until he received an email from the Mail on Sunday about the matter.
And a verdict was issued in Russia in 2004 on charges of money laundering, but the verdict was later reversed. Lewis denies the charge and says his sentencing was politically motivated.
In 2014, the British Home Office refused to allow Lewis permanent residence in Britain because he had not announced his sentence in Russia, but he later obtained it.
Louis was born in Turkmenistan and has both Russian and Israeli citizenship and entered Britain with a Cypriot passport.