Prince Charles wrote a gushing letter to businessman Dmitry Leus after he donated £535,000 to the Prince’s Foundation in May last year before the charity’s ethics committee ordered the money be returned
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Prince Charles offered to meet a Russian businessman after he donated a huge six-figure sum to his charity which was subsequently refused after concerns were raised about the donor’s background.
Dmitry Leus made his donations after a paid fixer promised him a private meeting with the future king at a Scottish castle in return, it has been claimed.
Charles penned a gushing letter to the banker after he gifted £535,000 to the Prince’s Foundation in May last year.
The royal, 72, suggested the pair meet up after the Covid lockdown, adding: “I very much look forward to seeing you.”
However, the foundation’s ethics committee felt uneasy about the donation with 51-year-old Mr Leus having been previously found guilty of money-laundering before having his conviction overturned.
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A regulator has since begun an investigation of the charity’s dealings with Mr Leus, with The Sunday Times uncovering evidence of possible deception involving the six figure donation.
There is no evidence, however, that Charles was aware of any deception.
Leus was told by the foundation’s deputy executive director, Chris Martin, his donation would instead go to Children & the Arts, another charity the prince is a patron of.
The businessman was sent a letter on headed paper by Mr Martin which purported to be from the second charity, telling him the money would allow educational programmes to be fulfilled.
However, last night Children & the Arts told the newspaper it had no idea about any money having been donated by Mr Leus and it was in the process of being liquidated.
It is unclear what happened to the money, though Mr Leus is reportedly considering taking legal action, according to his representative.
Charles’s closest aide, Michael Fawcett, stepped down as chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation last week after it was revealed he had “fixed” an honour in exchange for a donation.
The investigation also found that paid fixer, William Bortrick, briefly held back half of Mr Leus’s initial £200,000 donation.
And the charity accepted the sum via a UK foundation belonging to a Saudi businessman but controlled by another fixer.
Following the donation, Mr Bortrick stayed at royal residence the Castle of Mey in Scotland where he went for a walk with Charles.
The fixer allegedly told Mr Martin to delete online evidence of Mr Leus’s ties to the Prince’s Foundation after trustees raised concerns about the businessman.
But Mr Fawcett is said to have continued to seek funding from him for other projects linked to the prince, as well as advising him on how to improve his reputation.
The Sunday Times also claims Mr Bortrick told Mr Leus the charity would likely accept any “clean money” and to be “brief” about his past conviction.
A spokesperson for the foundation told the newspaper: “It would be inappropriate and unhelpful to comment further until the investigation has been concluded.”
Clarence House said: “The Prince of Wales fully supports the investigation now under way at the foundation.”
A royal source also said Charles’s letter was “routine” and did not constitute an actual invitation.
The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, where the charity is based, has also begun a formal investigation.
Mr Leus has publicly denied giving donations in exchange for a meeting, despite writing in an email last December “if it is not possible” for a meeting to be arranged he would “prefer to get my family money back”.
His representative said he made a donation “in good faith” and did not consent to his money being used elsewhere.
The Mirror has contacted Clarence House for comment.