A mil­lion­aire life­style – on a Navy pen­sion and an al­lowance from the Queen? The sums don’t add up ... un­til you meet An­drew’s oli­garch chums

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - Guy Adams

PRINCE An­drew’s long jour­ney from dash­ing young Falk­lands War hero to the pasty-faced, 59-year-old Royal pariah who bum­bled through Satur­day’s ex­tra­or­di­nary TV in­ter­view hinges on a sim­ple ques­tion: what on Earth first at­tracted him to the bil­lion­aire pae­dophile Jef­frey Ep­stein?

This rack­ety Amer­i­can fi­nancier was, af­ter all, the liv­ing em­bod­i­ment of the sort of chancer some­one of the Duke’s pedi­gree ought to avoid. A self-made man, whose per­sonal for­tune had been amassed in a highly-opaque fash­ion (ru­moured, in cer­tain cir­cles, to have in­volved black­mail and money-laun­der­ing), Ep­stein lived like a real-life Bond vil­lain, us­ing pri­vate jets and he­li­copters to shut­tle be­tween a col­lec­tion of vul­gar man­sions that were usu­ally filled with very young girls of du­bi­ous prove­nance.

His Florida home, where An­drew stayed on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, pre­sum­ably with po­lice pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers, was dec­o­rated with pho­to­graphs of naked teenagers. It boasted mas­sage rooms, equipped with sex toys, and guest bath­rooms where basins were adorned with soap in the shape of a phal­lus.

Yet within an ex­traor­di­nar­ily short time of meet­ing this du­bi­ous char­ac­ter, the Prince wel­comed Ep­stein into the Royal Fam­ily’s cir­cle, invit­ing him to a birth­day party at Wind­sor Cas­tle, en­ter­tain­ing him at Bal­moral and tak­ing him shoot­ing at San­dring­ham. What­ever, as the say­ing goes, was the Queen’s favourite son think­ing?

As with many old-fash­ioned tales of power and pa­tron­age, the an­swer al­most cer­tainly re­volves around the one thing Ep­stein had which An­drew des­per­ately cov­eted: money.

To un­der­stand why, we must wind the clock back to the time when their re­la­tion­ship was forged, in the early 2000s.

The Prince, who had just turned 40, was at a crossroads: soon to leave the Royal Navy, where he’d spent his adult life, he had two daugh­ters, a di­vorce, and a fa­mously-ex­pen­sive ex-wife to fi­nance, along with hob­bies that in­volved up­mar­ket golf re­sorts, yachts, and ex­clu­sive hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions such as St Tropez and the Swiss Alps.

Yet like most of his fam­ily, whose wealth tends to be tied up in es­tates, paint­ings, jew­els and trusts, the Duke was not, on pa­per, par­tic­u­larly cash-rich.

In­deed, his en­tire of­fi­cial in­come con­sisted of an al­lowance from the Queen, said these days to be around £250,000 an­nu­ally, plus a Navy pen­sion thought to pro­vide around £20,000 per year.

While the Bri­tish tax­payer coughed up for ‘air miles’ An­drew to tour the globe, as the na­tion’s rov­ing ‘trade am­bas­sador’ (the Duke’s travel ex­penses were £4mil­lion over his decade in the role, while his se­cu­rity costs were an­other £10mil­lion), it would still take an aw­ful lot more loot to keep him in the style to which he seemed ac­cus­tomed.

That, of course, was where

Ep­stein came in. The shady fi­nancier no­to­ri­ously lent his pri­vate jet to the Duke — whose love of air travel fa­mously once ex­tended to tak­ing a he­li­copter from Wind­sor Cas­tle to Kent to play golf, at a cost to the public of £5,000.

Mean­while Ep­stein’s var­i­ous homes and pri­vate is­land were placed at An­drew’s dis­posal, al­low­ing him to live and hol­i­day like an oli­garch, for free.

ON ATLEAST one oc­ca­sion dur­ing their tawdry re­la­tion­ship, and per­haps more — Emily Maitlis ne­glected to pin him down on this front — Ep­stein opened his cheque­book, too.

That mo­ment oc­curred in 2010, when Ep­stein had long been a con­victed child sex of­fender. Specif­i­cally, less than six months af­ter An­drew had de­cided to spend four nights at his New York man­sion. At that point, the fi­nancier agreed to pay £15,000 to Sarah Fer­gu­son. The cash gift re­port­edly al­lowed her to re­struc­ture vast debts, which at the time were head­ing to­wards the £5mil­lion mark and threat­en­ing to make ugly head­lines.

It also helped meet un­paid wages for her for­mer per­sonal as­sis­tant, Johnny O’Sullivan.

Un­like the Duke, who hasn’t yet seen fit to ex­press con­tri­tion to the pro­lific sex abuser’s vic­tims, the Duchess did is­sue a grov­el­ling mea culpa af­ter the pay­ment even­tu­ally came to light, call­ing it a ‘gi­gan­tic er­ror of judg­ment’ and adding ‘I ab­hor pae­dophilia and any abuse of chil­dren’. She promised to re­pay the loot ‘when­ever I can’.

Ep­stein’s as­sis­tance to An­drew didn’t just come in the form of free­bies and hard cash, though.

That much be­came abun­dantly clear dur­ing Satur­day’s News­night in­ter­view, when the Prince brazenly waxed lyri­cal about ‘the peo­ple I met and the op­por­tu­ni­ties I was given to learn, ei­ther by him or be­cause of him’, say­ing they were ‘ac­tu­ally very use­ful’.

What he ap­pears to have been try­ing to ar­gue was that Ep­stein’s cir­cle of glam­orous and in­flu­en­tial con­tacts were not just en­ter­tain­ing com­pany (for a some­what

lonely man who by all ac­counts has few gen­uine friends), but could also be lever­aged into a po­ten­tially valu­able com­mod­ity. Given sub­se­quent rev­e­la­tions about An­drew’s fi­nances it’s hard to dis­agree. For not only could such peo­ple as­sist Prince An­drew with his of­fi­cial trade role, they also had the abil­ity to fun­nel se­ri­ously prof­itable busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties his way.

In­deed, over the years since he left the Royal Navy in 2001, the Duke ap­pears to have be­gun qui­etly carv­ing out a side­line work­ing as a sort of com­mer­cial ‘fixer’ to wealthy busi­ness­men, us­ing his con­tacts book and Royal star­dust to help them set up lu­cra­tive deals in far-flung cor­ners of the globe.

The deals them­selves have al­ways been se­cret, as have the ex­act com­mis­sions he earned from them.

How­ever, they help ex­plain how, be­tween 2000 and the present day, the Duke has amassed such wealth.

To­day he boasts vis­i­ble trap­pings of turbo-charged pros­per­ity, in­clud­ing a col­lec­tion of ex­pen­sive wrist­watches — in­clud­ing sev­eral Rolexes and Cartiers, a £12,000 gold Ap­ple Watch and a £150,000 Patek Philippe — and a small fleet of lux­ury cars, in­clud­ing a new green Bent­ley. The Duke also ap­pears to have man­aged to help clear his ex-wife’s £5 mil­lion debts.

Then there’s his vast out­lays on prop­erty, in­clud­ing the £7.5mil­lion he spent re­fur­bish­ing Royal Lodge, his home in Wind­sor Great Park, and the £13mil­lion lodge in Switzer­land that he ac­quired in 2014.

Called Chalet Helora, it’s a seven bed­room lux­ury lodge in the ex­clu­sive ski re­sort of Ver­bier, which pre­vi­ously boasted six full­time staff and was rented out for more than £22,000 a week. The prop­erty boasts liv­ing rooms stuffed with an­tiques and a mas­ter bed­room draped in an­i­mal furs, a 650sq ft in­door swimming pool, sauna, sun ter­race, boot-room, bar and op­u­lent en­ter­tain­ing area.

For years, these ex­trav­a­gant pur­chases baf­fled friends, given his mea­gre of­fi­cial in­come and lack of any proper job.

SINCe 2011, his of­fi­cial work­ing life has re­volved around an en­tre­pre­neur­ial char­ity, [email protected], and a dwin­dling num­ber of of­fi­cial en­gage­ments (225 so far in 2019, down from roughly twice that num­ber in pre­vi­ous years).

‘I would com­pare An­drew to a hot-air bal­loon,’ an ac­quain­tance once told me. ‘He seems to float serenely around, in very rar­efied cir­cles, with­out any vis­i­ble means of sup­port. No one has ever had a clue how he pays for it.’

How­ever, in 2016, the Mail ob­tained a tranche of emails de­tail­ing his ex­tra­or­di­nary busi­ness deal­ings with just one of the many groups of po­lit­i­cally-con­nected en­trepreneur­s in his or­bit.

The doc­u­ments hailed from the spec­tac­u­larly cor­rupt, but min­er­al­rich Cen­tral Asian coun­try Kaza­khstan,

whose dic­ta­tor Nur­sul­tan Nazarbayev had, in the mid-2000s, be­come chummy with An­drew dur­ing trade vis­its: at one point invit­ing him on a goose hunt to one of his re­mote hunt­ing lodges.

The emails were orig­i­nally ob­tained by pro-democ­racy ac­tivists in the coun­try, and of­fered a chill­ing in­sight into the moral uni­verse of some of the dodgy oli­garchs in the Prince’s cir­cle.

One set of emails was sent by a Kazakh busi­ness­man (who had been pre­vi­ously pho­tographed meet­ing An­drew) to a group of Rus­sian friends. It fea­tured an ob­scene dis­cus­sion about teenage pros­ti­tutes who would soon be join­ing them on hol­i­day near to the Black Sea. At­tached was video footage of each of the girls, stick thin and in­cred­i­bly young, danc­ing in biki­nis next to a pool.

An­drew was not party to this cor­re­spon­dence, and it should be stressed that he had also noth­ing to do with the hol­i­day in ques­tion. His name in­stead cropped up in a sep­a­rate set of emails, in­volv­ing an en­tirely dif­fer­ent Kazakh busi­ness­man called Kenges Rak­i­shev.

On April 14, 2011, the Prince tele­phoned, then per­son­ally emailed, Rak­i­shev on be­half of a Greek water com­pany called eYDAP and a Swiss fi­nance house called Aras Cap­i­tal, which wanted to bid for a £385 mil­lion con­tract to build water and sewage net­works in two large Kazakh cities, As­tana and Al­maty, one of which boasted Rak­i­shev’s fa­ther-in-law as mayor.

De­scrib­ing the con­sor­tium as ‘we’, and out­lin­ing broad de­tails of what he called ‘the water plan’, the Prince then said his pri­vate sec­re­tary, Amanda Thirsk, would per­son­ally help in­tro­duce the firms to se­nior Kazakh po­lit­i­cal fig­ures.

Ac­cord­ing to Greek ex­ec­u­tives in­volved in the bid, An­drew was to have been paid a com­mis­sion of one per cent, or £3.85mil­lion, for help­ing bro­ker a suc­cess­ful deal.

Coin­ci­den­tally, one per cent is ex­actly the same com­mis­sion the Duchess of York had been recorded on tape in 2010 de­mand­ing in re­turn for ac­cess to the Prince, in a red-top news­pa­per sting.

The sum, in ad­di­tion to a £500,000 down pay­ment, would ‘open any door you want’, she told an un­der­cover re­porter from the News of the World, pos­ing as a wealthy busi­ness­man. ‘Look af­ter me and he [An­drew] will look af­ter you,’ she claimed. ‘You’ll get it back ten­fold.’ But we di­gress. The 2011 emails, on be­half of Greek and Swiss firms, with ab­so­lutely no up­side for UK Plc, were sent while An­drew was sup­pos­edly work­ing full-time as Bri­tain’s trade am­bas­sador.

Per­haps in­trigu­ingly, given re­cent

events in­volv­ing a pho­to­graph of An­drew and Ep­stein’s ‘sex slave’ Vir­ginia Roberts, Buck­ing­ham Palace ini­tially sought to ar­gue they were forged.

How­ever, they later ad­mit­ted the mes­sages, which were signed ‘The Duke’, were gen­uine, but hired law firm Har­bot­tle & Lewis to ar­gue that pub­lish­ing them would breach the Prince’s pri­vacy (the Mail suc­cess­fully re­sponded that they laid bare a fi­nan­cial and po­lit­i­cal scan­dal which was clearly in the public in­ter­est).

Also in the leaked emails were mes­sages de­tail­ing the no­to­ri­ous sale of Sun­ninghill, the Duke’s 12bed­room for­mer Win­dor home.

It had lan­guished on the mar­ket for five years be­fore sud­denly chang­ing hands in Novem­ber 2007. The pur­chaser was listed as an opaque com­pany based in the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands, who for rea­sons never prop­erly ex­plained de­cided to pay £15 mil­lion — £3mil­lion over the ask­ing price — be­fore leav­ing the prop­erty empty, de­cay­ing for more than eight years, be­fore knock­ing it to the ground.

The pur­chaser was later named as Timur Kulibayev, an­other Kazakh oli­garch An­drew met on the global trade cir­cuit.

Although Buck­ing­ham Palace had long in­sisted An­drew had no role what­so­ever in the sale, the emails showed his pri­vate of­fice had gone to great lengths to bro­ker the deal, dis­cussing in­te­rior de­sign and se­cu­rity ar­range­ments with the pur­chaser, while also in­ter­ven­ing to per­suade the Crown Es­tate to lease two fields ad­ja­cent to the prop­erty to them for a pep­per­corn rent.

A cou­ple of years later, An­drew had also emailed se­nior fig­ures at the State-owned Royal Bank of Scot­land to ask if they could ar­range for the Royal bank, Coutts, (owned by RBS) to take on Mr Kulibayev as a client. His mes­sage asked them to send ex­ec­u­tives to Kaza­khstan to dis­cuss ‘wealth man­age­ment’ with him. Mr Kulibayev — whose fa­ther-in-law is the afore­men­tioned dic­ta­tor, Nur­sul­tan Nazarbayev — is of course just one of a host of wealthy but con­tro­ver­sial busi­ness­men the Duke has been drawn to­wards.

WHILE none has proven to be as ex­plo­sively con­tro­ver­sial as Ep­stein, sev­eral have made ugly head­lines, from Colonel Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Is­lam; to Tarek Kaituni, a con­victed Libyan gun smug­gler who came to his daugh­ter Eu­ge­nie’s wed­ding this sum­mer; Sakher el-Ma­teri, a one-time mem­ber of the Tu­nisian govern­ment who took asy­lum in the Sey­chelles af­ter be­ing con­victed of cor­rup­tion; and David Row­land, a ty­coon and tax ex­ile once branded a ‘shady fi­nancier’ in Par­lia­ment.

All have got bulging wal­lets, like Ep­stein had, and are ca­pa­ble of great charm. Doubt­less they also throw a mean party.

But when a se­nior Royal chooses to bring large num­bers of turbo-charged plu­to­crats into their in­ner cir­cle, and when their re­la­tion­ships start to ex­tend into the fi­nan­cial realm, things have a habit of turn­ing sour.

Prince An­drew may have said in his no­to­ri­ous in­ter­view on Satur­day that he doesn’t per­spire. But as the charge sheet against him slowly starts to en­gulf the very in­sti­tu­tion he rep­re­sents, the Duke of York could be for­given for feel­ing a bit hot un­der the col­lar.




High life: An­drew ski­ing in Ver­bier £12,000 GOLD AP­PLE WATCH



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