Michael Fawcett, a longtime aide to Prince Charles, has resigned as head of the Prince’s Charitable Society amid allegations he used his position to help a Saudi billionaire obtain a golden visa.
Saudi billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz is said to have paid tens of thousands of dollars to receive the title of Honorary Commander of the Best Order of the British Empire. [CBE]It is one of the highest honors for non-British citizens, according to a Sunday Times report.
Fawcett was paid to coordinate the title and help Mahfouz obtain a “golden visa,” with which he hoped to obtain citizenship and residency in the United Kingdom, according to the report.
The prince himself presented the award to Mahfouz at a private ceremony in 2016 at Buckingham Palace. According to the newspaper, the ceremony was not published in the official list of royal speeches.
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Mahfouz – who denies wrongdoing – has been one of the prince’s biggest charities and even has a forest named after him, donating more than $2 million to help with restoration projects on the prince’s estate, among other charities.
The Saudi claims that he is a “benevolent benefactor”.
Leaked emails obtained by The Times named Fawcett as an intermediary and explicitly show that the donations were in exchange for an OBE award.
An email between a paid custodian consultant and William Portrick, owner of the Berk Berg Bulletin, states that the award “was promised to MBM [Mahfouz Bin Mahfouz] For £1.5m he paid to Dumfries [House] And [The Castle of] Mey, two of Prince’s plans, according to The Times.
Bortrick added, “MF [Michael Fawcett] shall abide by its agreement and settle the matter with the respected Mr. OBE immediately; Then help with citizenship. ”
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Fawcett was able to arrange a meeting between the prince and Mahfouz that led to him receiving his award.
The newspaper reports that Fawcett has helped run the Prince’s Foundation for much of the past decade, and the Duke of Wales has described him as an “indispensable” aide.
In 2003, the royal aide resigned from Charles’ service after allegations of mismanagement.
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The Prince’s Foundation is an umbrella organization for numerous charities, educational projects and opportunities centered around the historic Dumfries House Estate in Scotland.
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