Regulator expands probe into Prince’s Foundation after conflict of interest claims

The Scottish charity regulator has expanded its investigation into the Prince’s Foundation, following media reports about the charity’s finances over the weekend.

A story in The Sunday Times (£) claimed that Lord Brownlow, one of the UKs richest men, bought property from one of the charity’s subsidiaries while a trustee at the Prince’s Foundation without it being declared in its accounts.

Charities are required to publish information about related-party transactions to make sure any conflicts of interest are managed appropriately.

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator is already investigating separate allegations that donors gave money to the Prince’s Foundation in order to obtain honours. That inquiry was opened in September last year.

Brownlow, who was on the board of the Prince’s Foundation between 2013 and 2017, is said to have used his own private company, Havisham Group, to buy property from a firm controlled by the charity both before and during his time as a trustee.

Brownlow’s company spent £1.7m on 11 properties in Ayrshire between 2012 and 2017, and during the same period received several contracts from the charity to manage some of its assets, the newspaper said.

The charity’s annual accounts, published by Companies House, show the foundation declared the management contracts agreed with Brownlow’s firm, as well as donations received from him, but not his purchase of assets from one of its subsidiaries.

OSCR said “the work of Havisham Group and property transactions relating to the Knockroon development in Ayrshire forms part of our overall investigation, work on which is ongoing”.

The Prince’s Foundation is one of five charities linked to Prince Charles that has been scrutinised by regulators since the end of 2021.

The foundation is still being investigated over claims that Saudi billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak Mahfouz used donations to gain access to the Prince of Wales. Those allegations are also being investigated by the Metropolitan Police.

Children and the Arts, where Prince Charles is a patron, reported itself to the Charity Commission after becoming embroiled in the same scandal.

Last week the commission said it was reviewing another set of allegations against another charity, The Prince of Wales Charitable Fund, before deciding whether further action was needed.

PWCF accepted €3m in cash given to Prince Charles by the former Prime Minister of Qatar, according to media reports.

The Prince’s Foundation did not respond to a request for comment.

Third Sector was unable to contact Brownlow for comment.

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