Regulator rules out action against Prince of Wales charity over bin Laden donation

The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation accepted a £1m gift from the family of Osama bin Laden in 2013

The Prince of Wales (Photograph: Jonathan Brady/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Prince of Wales (Photograph: Jonathan Brady/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The Charity Commission will not take any action against the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation, after reports that it accepted £1m from the family of Osama bin Laden.

The regulator told Third Sector there was “no role for the commission” in questions about the donation, which was revealed in The Sunday Times yesterday(£).

The Times said Bakr and Shafiq bin Laden, who are half-brothers of the terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, made the donation after meeting the Prince of Wales in October 2013.

Osama bin Laden, who masterminded the attacks of 11 September 2001 in which more than 3,000 people died in the US, was killed by US Special Forces in Pakistan in 2011.

There is no suggestion that Bakr or Shafiq bin Laden are involved in any terrorist activities.

The Prince of Wales accepted the money despite being warned that the donation could “undermine Charles and the charity’s reputation”, according to The Times.

PWCF did not respond to a request for comment, but Ian Cheshire, its chair of trustees, told The Times: “The donation from Sheik Bakr bin Laden in 2013 was carefully considered by PWCF trustees at the time.

“Due diligence was conducted, with information sought from a wide range of sources, including government.

“The decision to accept the donation was taken wholly by the trustees. Any attempt to suggest otherwise is misleading and inaccurate.”

A Charity Commission spokesperson said: “Whether to accept a donation is ultimately a matter for trustees.

“Based on current information, this historic donation does not appear to be unlawful. There is therefore no role for the commission.”

The commission has previously ruled out opening a case into PWCF over separate reports that it had received millions of pounds first given to Prince Charles in cash by the former prime minister of Qatar.

The regulator said it reviewed information from trustees about that donation before deciding no further action was required.

Three other charities linked to Prince Charles are still being investigated by regulators.

The Scottish Charity Regulator opened an inquiry into The Prince’s Foundation last September, and extended its investigations into further conflict of interest claims earlier this month.

The Prince’s Foundation is also subject to an ongoing police investigation into cash-for-honours claims.

The Charity Commission has also opened statutory inquiries into the Mahfouz Foundation and Burke’s Peerage Foundation, in relation to questions about whether donations intended for one charity connected to the Prince of Wales were redirected to another organisation without the donors knowledge.

A fourth charity, Children and the Arts, where Prince Charles is a patron, referred itself to the Charity Commission after being named in media reports about the allegations. Children and the Arts subsequently announced plans to close down.

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