The Mail on Sunday
Yard probe intomissing £300k atCharlescharity
Fraud officers called in after foundation for alternative therapy fails to file accounts
SCOTLAND YARD is investigating the disappearance of £300,000 from a charity founded by Prince Charles to promote complementary and holistic therapies.
Police were called in last week after the alleged fraud was uncovered at The Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health, which has received nearly £1million of taxpayers’ money.
The foundation is also partly funded by profits from the Prince’s own commercial ventures, including the Duchy Originals organic food company and the shop on his Highgrove estate in Gloucestershire.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Economic and Specialist Crime Command have begun an inquiry into the alleged fraud, though no arrests have been made.
The Prince has been told money is missing from his charity and is being kept informed about the progress of the investigation. The financial hole was discovered after the charity’s auditors questioned some transactions in the accounts.
At their recommendation, a complaint was made to the police.
The foundation’s accounts are in disarray as a result of the alleged fraud. It has missed the deadline for filing the required documents to Companies House and the Charity Commission by more than five months.
It has already incurred a £750 fine over the delay and faces a further penalty of £1,500 by the end of this month. The next step would be prosecution because failure to file accounts is a criminal offence.
The foundation has to report to both regulators because it is a ‘charitable company’ – a status that gives trustees the benefit of limited liability in the event of it becoming insolvent.
The organisation has an office in Central London and employs 14 people. It is understood that no member of staff has been suspended over the allegations.
Prince Charles is the foundation’s president and its chairman is David Brownlow, chief executive of Huntswood, a firm which advises the financial services industry on regulation and compliance.
A spokesman for the charity said: ‘Due to staff and structural changes, there was a delay in preparing the 2008 accounts. While getting these accounts ready for filing, our audi- tors Kingston Smith questioned some of the transactions in the accounts.
‘As a result, at their recommendation, a complaint has been made to the police. Companies House and the Charity Commission are being kept informed.’
Between 2005 and 2007 the foundation received £900,000 in grants from the Department of Health, topped up by smaller amounts for particular projects.
It is now funded mainly by commercial sponsors and the Prince’s Charities Foundation.
The Foundation for Integrated Health was formed at the personal initiative of the Prince in 1993 to encourage the greater use of alternative therapies such as homeopathy and acupuncture alongside conventional medical treatment and drugs.
The foundation lobbies for a single regulatory body for complementary healthcare and has given financial support to practitioners of techniques including aromatherapy, yoga, massage therapy, reflexology, reiku and shiatsu.
But the Prince has met powerful opposition from scientists, who accuse him of using his Royal status to promote ‘ mumbo jumbo’ treatments. Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at Exeter University, has attacked the foundation as a ‘lobby group for unproven treatments’.
And this year the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee urged the NHS to stop paying for homeopathy – a treatment which Charles strongly supports – because there was no evidence it worked.
The alleged £300,000 fraud is understood to have been reported to the police in the last few days, after The Mail on Sunday started making inquiries about the foundation’s failure to file its accounts on time.
Clarence House said: ‘ The Prince has been informed and is being kept up to date.’
A Companies House spokesman said: ‘If the company fails to file as required by law, the matter may be referred to our prosecutions section and ultimately for court proceedings.’