‘£200k of my donation to Charles’ charity has been effectively STOLEN’: Pressure on Prince and his aides grows as furious banker claims ‘gift’ to royal’s Scottish project was declined after ethics committee branded him unsuitable – but NOT fully returned
- Ex-banker Dmitry Leus says £200k of £500k he gave Prince Charles is missing
- It was rejected after Mr Leus was deemed ‘not an appropriate donor’
- However he has only had £300k of the total sum returned to him
A former banker has claimed that £200,000 of a donation he made to one of Prince Charles‘s charities is missing – effectively ‘stolen’, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Dmitry Leus says he believed he was giving £500,000 to help the Dumfries House project in Scotland in 2020 – and received a personal letter of thanks from the Prince of Wales. But The Prince’s Foundation later decided against accepting his generous gift after its ethics committee ruled he was not an appropriate donor.
Turkmenistan-born Mr Leus had been wrongly imprisoned for four years in Russia on money-laundering charges, which have since been overturned.
The Prince’s Foundation returned £100,000 – all that it had received after the £500,000 had been passed through middle-men who had brokered the donation. It can now be revealed that Mr Leus has recovered another £200,000 of the donation – meaning that £200,000 is still missing.
MIchael Fawcett (right) has been forced to step down in the cash-for-honours furore – and an investigation by the Metropolitan Police is ongoing
Mr Leus donated to the Prince of Wales’ Dumfries House (pictured) project in Scotland in 2020
Mr Leus is furious that his reputation has been tarnished, and in an interview transcript expected to be used in an autobiography about his extraordinary life, he makes the claim about the money being ‘stolen’.
Referring to the donation to Charles’s Foundation, he says: ‘In the UK, I have continued my support of the most disadvantaged at grassroots community level.
‘Asked to contribute to higher profile causes, I have had my money stolen and the media storm… has led to one of my family foundation’s intended gifts being declined, although not yet fully returned to us.’
In another twist, The Prince’s Foundation has kept a separate donation of £35,000 from him which was given to help restore the Castle of Mey, the former Scottish home of the Queen Mother.
While the Foundation chose to return Mr Leus’s donation to Dumfries House on the basis of his character, The Mail on Sunday has learned it held on to his donation for the Castle of Mey.
Mr Leus’s revelations raise fresh questions about Charles’s judgment, and the way in which his Foundation sought vast donations from wealthy foreign donors.
This newspaper revealed last year a letter in which the Prince’s aide, Michael Fawcett, offered to help obtain British citizenship and a knighthood for Saudi tycoon, Sheik Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, who had donated to the Prince of Wales’s charities.
Mr Fawcett has been forced to step down in the cash-for-honours furore – and an investigation by the Metropolitan Police is ongoing.
There is no suggestion that any improper inducements were offered to Mr Leus in return for his donation.
This newspaper revealed last year a letter in which the Prince’s aide, Michael Fawcett, offered to help obtain British citizenship and a knighthood for Saudi tycoon, Sheik Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, who had donated to the Prince of Wales’s charities. Pictured: Dr Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, meeting Prince Charles
It remains a mystery why only £100,000 ever reached the charity, which is based at Dumfries House. The Ayrshire mansion, former home of the Marquesses of Bute, was saved for the nation in 2007 through a dramatic intervention by the Prince of Wales when he discovered the house and furniture were due to be sold off separately.
Following The Mail on Sunday’s revelation, the Foundation wrote a letter of apology to Mr Leus.
Mr Leus has never spoken publicly about the matter, but his autobiography is expected to make it clear he is angry, not just at the missing money, but that he was deemed to be an ‘inappropriate’ donor. He remains perplexed that, despite what he says is an unfair verdict on his status, the Foundation chose to keep £35,000 for the Castle of Mey and even sent a letter thanking him for his generosity.
A source said: ‘It is baffling how someone could donate to charity in good faith only to have some money kept, some returned and their reputation tarnished in the process.
‘You expect this sort of thing in Russia but not in Britain.’
The Castle of Mey, John O’Groats, Caithness, in Scotland
Prince Charlies and Camilla at the Castle of Mey
Mr Leus was adamant that he did not blame the Prince or his charity, but the revelations could hardly come at a more difficult time.
Charles was last week in Balmoral to see the Queen as he takes on more of her duties as head of state. The 96-year-old monarch has been suffering increasingly in recent weeks with ‘mobility issues’.
The MoS has seen a leaked ‘question and answer’ document, which is expected to help a ghost writer assist Mr Leus write his life story.
As well as addressing the controversy over the Foundation donation, Mr Leus makes clear his frustration over questions being raised about his character. He says: ‘I have never been linked to the Russian government or any oligarchs.’
Mr Leus, whose family have a base in Britain, runs the Leus Family Foundation, which donates to causes and helps fund sporting and training schemes for young people.
The story of his missing money emerged as part of an investigation by The Mail on Sunday into donations being paid into The Prince’s Foundation by foreign donors.
The charity has been forced to cut ties with two ‘fixers’ acting as middle men for the charity.
Several executives at the charity have been forced to resign and, separately, it has emerged that the Prince was given a suitcase full of banknotes for one of his other charities, the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund (PWCF), from Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, the former Prime Minister of Qatar known as ‘HBJ’.
His Royal Highness The Prince Charles Duke of Rothesay wearing a Hunting Stewart Tartan kilt and HRH The Duchess of Rothesay wearing a Lord of the Isle Tartan attend the annual highland games
A cannon in front of Castle of Mey
On another occasion, the PWCF accepted a £1 million donation from the brothers of Osama Bin Laden.
A second investigation is being carried out by the English Charity Commission into The Mahfouz Foundation, run by the Saudi Sheik, over claims it handled donations meant for The Prince’s Foundation.
Mahfouz has denied any wrongdoing and says that he did not seek, nor did he receive, a knighthood or British citizenship.
The Scottish charity regulator is conducting a third inquiry.
A spokesman for the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator said: ‘Our inquiry into The Prince’s Foundation is active and ongoing.’
The Prince’s Foundation said it would be ‘inappropriate to comment on an ongoing investigation’.