Prince Charles 'planned to meet' a controversial £535k Russian donor

Prince Charles ‘offered to meet’ Russian banker seeking UK citizenship as thanks for £535,000 gift to Prince’s Foundation – as regulator probes charity’s dealings with controversial donor linked to money-laundering

  • Prince Charles sent effusive letter thanking and offering to meet Russian donor 
  • Banker Dmitry Leus had sent a £535k gift to the Prince’s Foundation last year 
  • But the Prince’s charity raised concerns over his reputation and rejected cash 
  • It was claimed the Children & the Arts received the six-figure donation instead 
  • Mr Leus had been found guilty of money-laundering but saw conviction quashed
  • Now, questions have been raised over where Mr Leus’s missing money is, as The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator begins an investigation into the case

Prince Charles sent an effusive letter thanking and ‘offering to meet’ a Russian donor seeking British citizenship after his charity received a £535,000 cash gift. 

The Prince of Wales, 72, told Russian financier Dmitry Leus, 51, he was ‘very much looking forward to seeing’ him and explained how ‘incredibly grateful’ he was to him for his six-figure donation to the Prince’s Foundation. 

Charles had also met the paid fixer, who arranges meetings with the royal and donors, at a castle residence shortly after Mr Leus’ payment was paid last May, The Sunday Times reports.

However, the Prince’s charity claimed it no longer had the £535,000 donation and previously claimed it had been returned ‘to source’ after questions were raised by its ethics committee about Mr Leus’s suitability as a donor. 

Previously, Mr Leus was found guilty of money laundering in Russia before seeing his conviction was quashed. 

It has since emerged that The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator is now investigating the Foundation’s dealings with Mr Leus. 

Former Russian banker Dmitry Leus (above) donated £500,000 to the Prince’s Foundation and expected to secure a trip to Dumfries House, but claims his offer was revoked and he never saw his money returned

In the letter (above) The Prince of Wales told Russian financier Dmitry Leus he was ‘very much looking forward to seeing’ him and explained how ‘incredibly grateful’ he was to him for his six-figure donation to the Prince’s Foundation

Russian businessman Dmitry Leus sent the Prince’s Foundation more than £500,000 in donations after he was promised a meeting with Charles by a paid ‘fixer’, the Sunday Times reports.

Writing to Mr Leus after his cash gift on May 18, 2020, Charles said: ‘Word has reached me that you have very generously decided to support the work of my Foundation. 

‘I cannot tell you how incredibly grateful I am to you for your encouragement for everything I am trying to achieve. 

‘Your support comes at such a critical time and I do so greatly appreciate it.

‘With my Foundation now working across such a wide range of activities, the support you have given us is more important than ever.

‘As you can perhaps imagine, it makes a huge difference to receive the kind of assistance that enables us to grow and increase the momentum of our work. 

‘At this present, difficult time, your critical help gives us the confidence that we can plan for the future. This is something that gives me great comfort… 

‘I very much look forward to seeing you when this dreadful crisis passes and, in the meantime, this comes with my warmest wishes and heartfelt thanks.’ 

The man behind the deal and chairman of Burke’s Peerage, William Bortrick, withheld the first £100,000 of Leus’ donation before sending the rest of it. 


The man behind the deal and owner of Burke’s Peerage, William Bortrick (right), withheld the first £100,000 of Leus’ donation before sending the rest of it to Prince Charles’ Foundation, who reportedly rejected the gift

Weeks later, Mr Bortrick was sent an invitation to the Castle of Mey – the Queen Mother’s home in Caithness, Scotland – where he met Prince Charles and his gardener, the Times reports.

Internally, the charity’s executive director Chris Martin reportedly expressed concerns over Leus and advised Mr Bortrick to delete any online trail linking Leus with the Prince’s Foundation.

Despite the ethical concerns and blocked donations, Charles’ right-hand man Michael Fawcett brokered an introductory meeting with Leus and the Prince’s Foundation with the intention of accepting his donation, The Times reports.   

At the same time, Bortrick allegedly told Leus to be forthright about his past links with money laundering – which were overturned – and said the Foundation was ‘likely’ to accept any ‘clean money’, according to The Times.

It has since been claimed that after the charity’s ethics committee turned down the donations, senior officials forwarded the donation onto the Children & the Arts – of which Prince Charles is a patron.

The Sunday Times reports that Leus was contacted by Mr Martin – writing on behalf of the Children & the Arts – thanking him for his donation. 

Born in Turkmenistan, Mr Leus has Russian and Israeli citizenship, but entered Britain on a European Union passport from Cyprus. 

Mr Leus has denied donating to the Prince’s Foundation in exchange for a meeting. 

Lawyers for Mr Leus said: ‘Our client made a donation to The Prince’s Foundation in good faith via Burke’s Peerage. Burke’s Peerage have not returned any of the money to him.’

They added: ‘Mr Leus appointed a legal team to investigate and he does not rule out any course of action relating to this very serious matter.’  

The Prince’s Foundation has been contacted for comment. 

Last week, Michael Fawcett stepped down as chief executive of The Prince’s Foundation after being confronted with a letter which exposed how he offered to help secure a knighthood and British citizenship for a billionaire Saudi donor to Charles’s charity. 

New riddle over missing £500,000: Russian banker donated cash for Prince Charles’s foundation – yet a year on, £200,000 is with one society fixer, £100,000 with another and the charity has nothing 

By Kate Mansey for The Mail on Sunday 

A glamorous Belarusian investment banker can today be revealed as a central figure in a scheme to sell access to the Prince of Wales in exchange for donations to his charities.

Volha Havorchanka – pictured right with her business partner and society fixer Michael Wynne-Parker – was tasked with introducing wealthy Russians to influential figures in the British establishment.

A string of ‘cash for access’ revelations by The Mail on Sunday have sparked an investigation by The Prince’s Foundation and the temporary resignation of Michael Fawcett, the chief executive of the charity and Charles’s most trusted adviser.

Volha Havorchanka (Lebedeva) in a red dress with her husband, Anatoly (Left) and Michael Wynne ParkerImage

Ms Havorchanka denies knowledge of any donations, but the involvement of the 33-year-old raises tantalising questions about the scale of Russian involvement in Charles’s charitable operations. 

It also gives a new dimension to one of the more mysterious elements of the saga – how a £500,000 donation to The Prince’s Foundation from a former Russian banker called Dmitry Leus has apparently vanished.

Philanthropist Mr Leus says he wanted to donate to The Prince’s Foundation because it shared his values of supporting young people through sport.

Through a British barrister he met Ms Havorchanka, who introduced him to Mr Wynne-Parker, her co-director of Introcom Ltd, which helps wealthy – and often foreign – clients gain access to influential British figures.

Mr Leus was advised by Mr Wynne-Parker that the suggested £500,000 donation could be made through the accounts of Burke’s Peerage, the gentry guide which is edited by William Bortrick.

All seemed well until father-of-four Mr Leus learned that The Prince’s Foundation had decided last autumn not to accept his money because its ethics committee did not consider him appropriate.

Yet a year after that decision, Mr Leus, 51, has still not had his money returned and has become so exasperated that he has not ruled out going to the police.

When the MoS revealed two weeks ago the contents of an email written by Mr Wynne-Parker that offered dinner and an overnight stay at Dumfries House – the country mansion in Scotland saved for the nation by Charles in 2007 – in return for a six-figure donation, Mr Bortrick denied all knowledge of any ‘cash for access’ scheme or of handling any funds.

However, this newspaper has obtained emails from Mr Bortrick which appear to show the contrary.

The two emails sent last month state that Mr Leus’s wife, Zhanna, made a £200,000 payment to Burke’s Peerage marked ‘Charitable Donation HRH Prince of W’ on May 11, 2020. A second payment of £300,000 was made to the same account on September 3 last year.

The emails appear to show that just £100,000 of that sum was sent on to The Prince’s Foundation. In an email on August 31, Mr Bortrick says: ‘£100,000 was sent in tranches on 11 May, 2020, to The Prince’s Foundation, who acknowledged Mr Leus’s kind benefaction in writing.’

But when the £100,000 was returned, Mr Bortrick sent it along with an additional £100,000 to a charity called Children and the Arts in two separate transactions on September 24 and 25 last year.

The charity was started in 2005 by the Prince of Wales. It later split from his foundation and is now in the process of being wound up.

Curiously, the charity’s latest accounts for the year to September 30, 2020, state: ‘The charity organised itself to secure the funds of £233,000 to settle its remaining liabilities and undertake the orderly closure of its business activity.’

It is unclear whether the £200,000 donation to Children and the Arts detailed by Mr Bortrick was used by the charity to settle its liabilities. A spokesman for Hussam Otaibi, a Jordanian merchant banker and chairman of Children and the Arts, declined to say where the £200,000 donation had gone.

In another twist, Mr Bortrick’s emails show that £200,000 was sent to Mr Wynne-Parker’s Introcom International and he says the final £100,000 was ‘retained’ by him. He said the funds ‘remain secure’ for Mr Leus. Mr Bortrick did not respond to requests for comment.

For his part, Mr Leus simply wants his money back and said last night: ‘My contribution to The Prince’s Foundation was intended to support their educational and heritage goals, in particular their innovative training programmes. I never had as my goal a dinner or overnight invitation.

‘My private hope was that eventually some collaboration might have been possible with The Prince’s Foundation for the creation of a national fencing centre to bring the sport to disadvantaged young people nationwide. Given that my private charitable donation has been made public in recent media coverage, I must clarify certain points.

The emails appear to show that just £100,000 of that sum was sent on to The Prince’s Foundation

‘I made two separate donations together totalling £500,000 to The Prince’s Foundation via Burke’s Peerage. I have now learned that not all of these funds were then transferred on to The Prince’s Foundation. No funds at all were returned to me from Burke’s Peerage.

‘This is especially upsetting as these funds could have done so much good for all the children and young people our foundation supports. My commitment to supporting children and young adults in the UK and beyond remains undiminished.’

Ms Havorchanka, who studied at London’s City University, declined to comment and denies any knowledge of a ‘cash for access’ scheme involving the Prince and his charities. Intriguingly, however, her profile disappeared from Introcom’s website hours after the MoS revealed the existence of the scheme a fortnight ago.

Her biography – which has vanished from the site – read: ‘Specialising in working with high net worth individuals, Volha has developed an understanding of the client’s all-round requirements.

‘Successful people are not only looking to find the right place for their money and the right manager but they are keen on social opportunities that most successful people find difficult to fulfill […] Together with Michael, Volha has managed to achieve great client satisfaction and peace of mind.’

A source close to Ms Havorchanka, who has been director of Introcom Ltd since 2017, denied receiving any money which had been destined for The Prince’s Foundation, but said that Mr Wynne-Parker had recently sent her money which was the repayment of a personal loan.

Douglas Connell, chairman of The Prince’s Foundation, said: ‘Following the publication of an initial allegation relating to “middlemen” and donors, the trustees instigated a full and rigorous investigation with the assistance of forensic accountants from one of the “big four” accountancy firms. This investigation is ongoing. The full review is expected to take several weeks.’

Source: Read Full Article