The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into Mahfouz Foundation over allegations that it received donations intended for a charity linked to the Prince of Wales.
The Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) opened an investigation into The Prince’s Foundation in September. A third charity, Children and the Arts, where the Prince of Wales is a patron, has referred itself to the Charity Commission.
All three charities are linked to allegations first published in the Sunday Times about attempts to use donations to influence the heir to the throne.
Statutory inquiry into billionaire's charity
The regulator revealed that it had been engaging with trustees at the Mahfouz Foundation since September, when The Sunday Times first published claims that it had received donations intended for The Prince’s Foundation.
Its inquiry will examine whether the Mahfouz Foundation received these donations as alleged, how the money has been used, and whether or not it should be returned to the donor or another charity.
The Commission will also look at financial controls at the charity and whether the trustees have worked “in line with charity law”.
The Mahfouz Foundation was founded by Saudi billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz. According to its filings with the regulator, its income was exactly £10,000 last year, meaning that it does not need to publish audited annual accounts.
Michael Fawcett, a long-standing aide to the Prince of Wales, resigned as chief executive of The Prince’s Foundation last week.
The Commission and OSCR confirmed on Monday that they are still looking into The Prince’s Foundation and Children and the Arts.
In a series of reports, The Sunday Times alleged that by the Russian businessman Dmitry Leus had tried to donate £200,000 to The Prince’s Foundation, after being put in touch with Fawcett. His gift was subsequently rejected by the charity’s ethics committee.
Leus had been convicted of money laundering in Russia before the conviction was overturned.
Further reports claimed that Prince Charles’s staff had offered to give some of Leus’s donation to Children and the Arts after that money was rejected by The Prince’s Foundation.
The donation is alleged to have then been sent via The Mahfouz Foundation, without Leus’s knowledge and obscuring the origins of the money. A member of Prince Charles's staff subsequently changed a thank you letter from the charity to Leus, to hide references to the Mahfouz Foundation, the Times said.
Fawcett had previously written to Mahfouz to support an application for British citizenship, according to the Times.
There is no answer on the telephone number listed for the Mahfouz Foundation on the Charity Commission website.
The Foundation’s own website is a single page featuring a picture of Mahfouz. A link for contact details redirects to the same page.
Editor's note, 19 November: This article was amended to make clear that the Charity Commission has not opened an inquiry into Children and the Arts.