Duke of York ac­cused of ex­ploit­ing trade role

Prince An­drew ac­cused of help­ing wealthy friend as he braces for fur­ther al­le­ga­tions in BBC show

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Vic­to­ria Ward

The Duke of York has been ac­cused of re­peat­edly ex­ploit­ing his role as Bri­tain’s trade en­voy to fur­ther his own fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests. Al­le­ga­tions in­volv­ing his busi­ness deal­ings in­cluded a claim that he passed a con­fi­den­tial gov­ern­ment doc­u­ment to a close friend and busi­ness as­so­ciate. It came as he braced for more rev­e­la­tions from Vir­ginia Roberts Gi­uf­fre, who claims she was forced to sleep with him when she was 17, and is to ap­pear on the BBC’S Panorama tonight.

THE Duke of York has been ac­cused of re­peat­edly ex­ploit­ing his role as Bri­tain’s trade en­voy to fur­ther his own fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests.

The cri­sis en­gulf­ing the Duke deep­ened yes­ter­day amid a vol­ley of al­le­ga­tions in­volv­ing his busi­ness deal­ings, in­clud­ing a claim that he passed a con­fi­den­tial gov­ern­ment doc­u­ment to a close friend and busi­ness as­so­ciate.

It came as he braced for more rev­e­la­tions from Vir­ginia Roberts Gi­uf­fre, who claims she was traf­ficked to the UK by Jef­frey Ep­stein, the con­victed sex of­fender, and was forced to sleep with him when she was 17.

The Duke has al­ways de­nied hav­ing slept with Ms Roberts, and told Emily Maitlis, the BBC News­night pre­sen­ter, that he was with his daugh­ter Princess Beatrice at a Pizza Ex­press in Wok­ing on the night in ques­tion.

Ms Gi­uf­fre has been in­ter­viewed about the al­le­ga­tions by Panorama, which will be broad­cast tonight on BBC One.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion by The Mail on Sun­day al­leged that the 59-year-old Duke was closely in­volved in a busi­ness ven­ture with David Row­land, 74, the Bri­tish prop­erty de­vel­oper and fi­nancier, based in a Caribbean tax haven.

The news­pa­per claimed that the Duke had a 40 per cent stake in a firm based in the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands called In­verness As­set Man­age­ment (IAM), which was ac­tive un­til March this year. The Duke also holds the ti­tle Earl of In­verness.

The com­pany’s “con­tacts”, which re­port­edly in­cluded royal fam­i­lies and heads of state, were al­legedly tar­geted as po­ten­tial in­vestors for an­other in­vest­ment fund, to be based in the Cay­man Is­lands.

It was claimed that the Duke had al­lowed Mr Row­land’s son, Jonathan, to join him on a tax­payer funded trade mis­sion to China and ac­com­pany him to meet­ings, which Mr Row­land then al­legedly used to generate lu­cra­tive busi­ness for his fam­ily’s pri­vate Lux­em­bourg-based bank.

Dur­ing the trip, Mr Row­land is ac­cused of ad­ding into their sched­ule a meet­ing with Louis Che­ung, then pres­i­dent of Ping An, the world’s largest in­sur­ance com­pany, worth an es­ti­mated £171bil­lion, later propos­ing they could be­come busi­ness part­ners. The news­pa­per re­ported that leaked emails sug­gested the Duke planned to take a fi­nan­cial stake in the Row­lands’s bank that he was help­ing to pro­mote.

Mean­while, Amanda Thirsk, the Duke’s former pri­vate sec­re­tary, is ac­cused of pass­ing the Row­lands a For­eign Of­fice di­plo­matic ca­ble said to have con­tained de­tails of the Duke’s one-to-one con­ver­sa­tions with se­nior Chi­nese politi­cians.

Jonathan Row­land is also al­leged to have been passed a pri­vate brief­ing memo from Trea­sury of­fi­cials about Iceland’s fi­nan­cial cri­sis months af­ter his fam­ily bought part of a col­lapsed Ice­landic bank in an £86m deal. Fur­ther­more, it is claimed that when the Duke was forced to step aside as trade en­voy in 2011 amid mount­ing con­tro­versy sur­round­ing his friend­ship with Ep­stein, Jonathan Row­land al­legedly sug­gested they might con­tinue their com­mer­cial ac­tiv­i­ties “un­der the radar”. The Duke re­port­edly replied in an email: “I like your think­ing.”

The Duke’s re­la­tion­ship with the

Row­lands is likely to come un­der scru­tiny fol­low­ing the claims, which come amid in­creas­ing ques­tions about the source of his wealth. He has been friends with David Row­land, a former scrap metal dealer, since at least 2005, when he un­veiled a bronze statue of the fi­nancier in the grounds of Hav­il­land Hall, his es­tate in Guernsey. Mr

‘The word that comes to mind is en­ti­tle­ment, re­ally. Be­cause he is a duke, he can get away with any­thing’

Row­land was in­vited to Bal­moral in 2010, when he re­port­edly met the Queen and had tea with the Prince of Wales. Four months later, he is said to have paid £40,000 to help clear the Duchess of York’s debts.

Since the Duke’s News­night in­ter­view was broad­cast, sev­eral or­gan­i­sa­tions have dis­tanced them­selves from him in­clud­ing KPMG, Stan­dard Char­tered and the Univer­sity of Hud­der­s­field where he was a chan­cel­lor. Chris Bryant, a For­eign Of­fice min­is­ter when the Duke was trade en­voy, de­manded a par­lia­men­tary in­quiry into his busi­ness deal­ings.

He said: “It all just stinks. I don’t think he has ever been able to draw a dis­tinc­tion be­tween his own per­sonal in­ter­est and the na­tional in­ter­est.

“It’s morally of­fen­sive. Ei­ther the for­eign af­fairs com­mit­tee or the pub­lic ac­counts com­mit­tee should launch an in­quiry. The word that comes to mind is en­ti­tle­ment, re­ally. Be­cause he is a duke, he can get away with any­thing.”

In a state­ment, Buck­ing­ham Palace said dur­ing the Duke’s time as trade en­voy, “the aim of his of­fice was to pro­mote Bri­tain and Bri­tish in­ter­ests over­seas, not the in­ter­ests of in­di­vid­u­als”. The Row­lands told The Mail on Sun­day they could not com­ment for le­gal rea­sons.

Vir­ginia Roberts Gi­uf­fre with a pho­to­graph of her­self aged 16, and right with the Duke of York and Ghis­laine Maxwell. The Duke, also far right, has de­nied hav­ing sex with her

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