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Saudi charity with links to Prince Charles in funding probe

Published on November 18, 2021

A regulator on Thursday said it had opened a formal probe into donations received by a Saudi tycoon’s charitable trust which were intended for Prince Charles’ foundation.

The Charities Commission, which registers and oversees charities in England and Wales, said it had been in contact with the Mahfouz Foundation since media reports in September.

Saudi billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, a prominent donor to the Prince’s Foundation, is alleged to have been promised a royal honour and even UK citizenship by Charles’ former closest aide, Michael Fawcett.

Fawcett resigned as chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation last week.

The inquiry will examine whether “certain donations received by the Mahfouz Foundation were intended for the charity, have been used in accordance with the donors’ intentions and if they should be returned to the donor or otherwise applied for charitable purposes”.

It will also look to establish if the trustees “have carried out their legal duties and responsibilities as trustees in line with charity law”.

The scope of the inquiry could be broadened if necessary, it added.

According to the commission, the Mahfouz Foundation was set up “to promote and advance the education of the public in the United Kingdom in the culture, history, language, literature and institutions of the Middle East”.

The Prince’s Foundation, set up in 1986, is not regulated by the Charities Commission but is registered with the Scottish Charity Regulator.

The Scottish body in September launched its own probe into reports that the foundation accepted cash from a Russian banker previously convicted of money laundering.

Charles reportedly wrote a letter thanking Dmitry Leus for the money and suggested they could meet after the coronavirus pandemic.

The chairman of the foundation, Douglas Connell, resigned, saying he was to blame “if it appears that serious misconduct may have taken place”.

The foundation’s ethics committee declined the donation after discovering Leus’ conviction in Russia in 2004.

The conviction was overturned and he has claimed he was the victim of a politically motivated prosecution.