Campaign group Republic has written to the Charity Commission, in connection with the cash donations made to Prince Charles's charity by a Qatari politician.
The letter sets out a number of questions Republic believes need to be answered, including:
- While the charity knows that the donation came from Sheikh Hamad, do they (and how can they) know where the money originated?
- How can the charity be satisfied that they are not being used for the purposes of money laundering, given the lack of transparency about the origin of the cash?
- Given Prince Charles, Michael Fawcett and the Prince’s Foundation are being investigated regarding the apparent promise of honours in exchange for charitable donations, can the charity be sure that similar promises haven’t been made in connection with these or other donations?
- Has the charity confirmed that no other large cash donations have been offered or accepted?
- You’ll be aware that Sheikh Hamad is a former prime minister of Qatar, a country with a dreadful record on human rights and democracy. Is the Commission satisfied that the donations in question do not damage the reputation of the charity and the wider charity sector?
- The Sunday Times report quoted one trustee as saying they were not aware of the donations, despite the legal obligation of trustees to ensure good financial management of the charity and to protect the charity’s reputation. This raises questions about the charity’s practices and the relationship between the charity and Prince Charles. Charities are required to be independent, with trustees being responsible for their governance and financial probity. Charles is neither a trustee nor an employee of the charity, yet appears to be able to facilitate a questionable donation without the knowledge of at least one of their seven trustees.
- The report also says the charity provides funds for the upkeep of one of Charles’s estates in Scotland. This raises obvious questions about conflict of interest and personal gain by Charles and why the charity is spending its money on someone’s private estate.
The letter calls on the Charity Commission to discharge its duties in this case just as they would with any other charity, without fear or favour and with no concern for the charity’s connections to Prince Charles.
Speaking today, Graham Smith added:
"It isn't enough to simply be reassured by Charles and the charity that no rules were broken. These payments raise serious and legitimate questions that could damage the reputation of Britain's charity sector."
"There is clearly a danger that such payments, in cash and from a questionable source, could be connected to money laundering or other criminal activity."
"Given recent allegations of cash-for-honours in connection with another of Prince Charles's charities, there are also questions to be asked about any possible favour being requested or granted in return for these donations."
"Charities are required to be independent, yet Charles appears to be making decisions without the knowledge of trustees while at the same time personally benefiting from the charity's funding of his Scottish estate."
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