Claims Prince Andrew given £1.5m by Tory donor ‘should be probed’

Campaigners have said an investigation is needed into money allegedly paid to the Duke of York.

Claims Prince Andrew given £1.5m by Tory donor ‘should be probed’ Getty Images

An urgent investigation should be launched following claims the Duke of York received £1.5m from Tory donor David Rowland to pay off a loan from a bank controlled by the property magnate’s family, campaigners have said.

Bloomberg said it has seen documents which show Andrew’s friend, the multi-millionaire Mr Rowland, wired the money to a London account held by the duke at Banque Havilland in 2017.

It said the transfer to the duke was earmarked for repayment of a £1.5m unsecured loan from Banque Havilland that Andrew had taken out 11 days earlier.

An internal credit application also allegedly showed staff at the bank were concerned the original unsecured loan was “not in line with the risk appetite of the bank” but it was approved because it opened up “further business potential with the royal family”.

Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state, said: “As with the row over MPs’ second jobs, when someone is paying a public figure large sums of money the question has to be: What do they want in return?

“Royals have unique access to the highest levels of government here and abroad, as well as complete secrecy surrounding what they do and say behind closed doors.

“There needs to be an urgent investigation into royal lobbying and cash for access, starting with Prince Andrew.”

Questions have long been asked about how the Queen’s second son, who rubbed shoulders with billionaires and tycoons, funded his lavish lifestyle over the years.

In 2007, the duke controversially sold his former home Sunninghill Park – a wedding present from the Queen – for £15m, which was £3m above the asking price, to the president of Kazakhstan’s son-in-law.

He also earned himself the nickname Air Miles Andy for his extensive use of helicopters and other aircraft at public expense.

Andrew is currently facing a civil sexual assault case in the US over claims by Virginia Giuffre, which he denies, that he had sex with her when she was 17 after she was trafficked by paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

It will be two years ago on Saturday since the duke stepped down from public duties following his disastrous appearance on Newsnight about his former friendship with convicted sex offender Epstein.

A spokeswoman for the duke said he is entitled to privacy over his “entirely legitimate personal financial affairs”.

She added: “We don’t intend to comment on the veracity or otherwise of the string of assertions you have put to us, other than to state that the duke is entitled to a degree of privacy in conducting his entirely legitimate personal financial affairs, on which all appropriate accounting measures are undertaken and all taxes duly paid.”

A spokesperson for Banque Havilland denied any wrongdoing.

“Due to relevant laws and regulations the bank cannot comment on alleged clients or transactions,” they said.

“Like all financial institutions, we are subject to routine inspections and audits and provide all necessary disclosures.

“Compliance with legal and regulatory requirements are the foremost priority of the bank. Any inference of wrongdoing is categorically denied.”

The private Banque Havilland was founded by the Rowland family in 2009 in Luxembourg.

Mr Rowland, who has appeared in the Sunday Times Rich List, has an estimated wealth of £600m.

Andrew receives a Royal Navy pension and the Queen is also thought to fund the duke from her £21.7m a year Duchy of Lancaster income, but the figure she gives him is kept private.

The duke used to be paid £249,000 a year in the Civil List before the arrangements changed in 1992.

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