Prince Charles’s charity facing legal action from Russian tycoon over £500,000 donation

The Prince of Wales was facing renewed controversy after it emerged he offered to meet a Russian businessman who had donated a six-figure sum to his charity.

The donation had to be returned after the Prince’s Foundation’s ethics committee raised concerns about the background of Dmitry Leus, 51, a banker seeking British citizenship.

But Mr Leus now claims the money – handed to the foundation through a third party – has never been returned to him and is reported to be considering legal action. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Mr Leus. 

The foundation’s ethics committee declined the donation after discovering he had been found guilty of money laundering in Russia in 2004 before having the conviction overturned. Mr Leus has said he was the victim of a politically-motivated prosecution.

In his letter to Mr Leus, written in May last year, Prince Charles wrote: “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.”

The prince concluded: “I very much look forward to seeing you when this dreadful [Covid]  crisis passes, and, in the meantime, this comes with my warmest good wishes and heartfelt thanks.”

The letter was written a week after £100,000 was sent to the Foundation but had to be returned months later. Mr Leus says that in total he believed he had given £500,000 to the Prince’s Foundation in two separate donations but now discovered that only £100,000 went into its coffers.

Mr Leus said in a statement to the Mail on Sunday: “I have now learned that not all of these funds were then transferred to the Prince’s Foundation.

“This is especially upsetting as these funds could have done so much good for all the children and young people our foundation supports.”

The Mail on Sunday reported that he had not ruled out making a complaint to the police.

There is no suggestion that the Prince of Wales was aware of any alleged discrepancy.

The prince’s Foundation said it had received a £100,000 donation but that money was returned to the sender after the ethics committee rejected it. The foundation has declined to say who the sender was.

In a statement, Douglas Connell, Chair of The Prince’s Foundation said: “The Prince’s Foundation takes very seriously the allegations made in recent news articles. The Prince’s Foundation and its Trustees are committed to the highest ethical standards.  

"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 and it would be inappropriate to make any further comment at this stage.”

In a separate statement, a Clarence House spokesman said: “The Prince of Wales fully supports the investigation now underway at the Foundation.”

Michael Fawcett, a confidante of Prince Charles, resigned as chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation over unrelated claims that he had offered to help another donor to the charity to receive a knighthood.

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