Former Prince's Foundation chief 'co-ordinated with fixers' over honours for donor, probe finds

The former chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation co-ordinated with “fixers” over honours for a donor to the charity, an independent inquiry has found. 

The charity has published a summary of the findings of an investigation conducted by the auditing firm EY into claims in The Sunday Times newspaper that former chief executive Michael Fawcett helped secure an honour for the Saudi Arabian billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz in return for donations to the charity. Mahfouz denies any wrongdoing. 

The summary report says: “With respect to the allegation of securing honours for a donor in exchange for donations, there is evidence that communication and co-ordination took place between the CEO at the time and so-called ‘fixers’ regarding honorary nominations for a donor between 2014 and 2018. 

“There is no evidence that trustees at the time were aware of these communications.”

Fawcett resigned as chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation last month after temporarily stepping down when claims about the charity were published in September. 

The summary report says Fawcett and another senior employee were involved in directing a transfer of funds from the Mahfouz Foundation to another charity, the Children and the Arts Foundation. 

“This activity, including written correspondence, was undertaken without the knowledge or approval of the trustees,” the summary says. 

The Charity Commission last month opened a statutory inquiry into the Mahfouz Foundation because of concerns that it received donations intended for the Prince’s Foundation

The investigation also looked into claims that funds were offered to the charity in return for a meeting between Prince Charles and the Russian businessman Dmitry Leus. 

The summary report says there was no evidence that employees or trustees of The Prince’s Foundation were aware of private dinners being “sold” or arranged in exchange for money.

It says the Prince’s Foundation’s ethics committee considered a £100,000 donation from Leus, which was initially accepted but then rejected when “further information came to light”. 

The Prince’s Foundation said it had begun a “robust and detailed governance review” that would incorporate findings from the independent investigation. 

Dame Sue Bruce, chair of the Prince’s Foundation, said: “The board of trustees agreed unequivocally that the recent allegations had to be independently investigated so that the facts could be established, and all necessary steps could be taken to address the issues identified. 

“Now that the board has the findings of the investigation, trustees are considering them in conjunction with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator and other relevant parties.

“The board of trustees is determined that lessons will be learned to ensure that, in future, our charity maintains the highest standards in all areas and always acts with the utmost integrity and probity.

The OSCR, which has an ongoing inquiry into the charity, said it had received a copy of the report and was “carefully considering the contents of this report as part of the evidence we have gathered to support our own consideration of these matters”. 

The Charity Commission said its inquiry into the Mahfouz Foundation was ongoing.

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