Scandal-hit Prince Andrew is plunged deeper into crisis today by a devastating exposé of his business activities by The Mail on Sunday.
We can reveal how the Duke of York repeatedly exploited his taxpayer-funded role as Britain’s trade envoy to work behind the scenes for his close friend, the controversial multi-millionaire financier David Rowland.
Bombshell emails reveal that while on official trade missions meant to promote UK business, Andrew was quietly plugging a private Luxembourg-based bank for the super-rich, owned by Rowland and his family.
In an astonishing conflict of interests, the Prince allowed the Rowlands to shoehorn meetings into his official trade tours so they could expand their bank and woo powerful and wealthy clients.
He also passed them private government documents they had no right to see. It can also be revealed that, at the time, Andrew co-owned a business with the Rowlands in a secretive Caribbean tax haven.
It was to be used to lure the Prince’s wealthy Royal contacts to invest in a tax-free offshore fund. One email exchange reveals
that when Andrew was facing the sack from his envoy role because of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, Rowland’s son and business lieutenant, Jonathan, suggested their commercial activities could continue ‘under the radar’. Andrew responded: ‘I like your thinking.’
The devastating revelations come as the Duke faces mounting questions about how he funds his opulent lifestyle. They follow in the wake of his car-crash TV interview about his links to Epstein, the financier and convicted sex offender who died in jail this summer while awaiting trial for trafficking underage girls.
He will face further pressure tomorrow when an interview with Virginia Roberts, one of Epstein’s victims, airs on BBC1’s Panorama. Ms Roberts, who now uses her married surname Giuffre, claims she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was 17 – although he has always strenuously denied her claims.
She tells the show: ‘It was a really scary time in my life. He knows what happened, I know what happened. And there’s only one of us telling the truth.’
Last night, former MP Norman Baker called for Prince Andrew to be stripped of his HRH title following this newspaper’s investigation into his business links.
And Chris Bryant, who was a Foreign Office Minister at the time Andrew held his trade envoy role, demanded a parliamentary inquiry into the Duke’s business behaviour, which he called ‘morally offensive’. ‘It all just stinks,’ said Mr Bryant. ‘I don’t think he has ever been able to draw a distinction between his own personal interest and the national interest. It’s morally offensive. Either the Foreign Affairs Committee or the Public Accounts Committee should launch an inquiry into this.’
Nigel Mills, a Tory member of the Public Accounts Committee before the Election was called, also demanded an inquiry, adding: ‘He clearly was never fit to hold that office.
‘Anyone in public life knows these rules about separating your own interests from those of the job you are doing. What he is doing here isn’t even close to the line – it’s a million miles over it.’
David Rowland, a 74-year-old property tycoon, was a tax exile for decades and helped pay off Sarah Ferguson’s huge debts.
He quit as Tory Party treasurer shortly after he was appointed in 2010 amid controversy surrounding his business affairs.
Leaked emails from Jonathan Rowland also claim Andrew was due to take a financial stake in the Rowland family bank he was secretly helping to promote.
The MoS has also learned that in August, a whistleblower personally emailed Prince Charles and warned him about his brother’s troubling business links with David Rowland.
Our investigation reveals for the first time how:
- Prince Andrew had a 40 per cent stake in a firm based in the British Virgin Islands called Inverness Asset Management that was in existence until March this year;
- A document reveals that ‘contacts’ of the company – including Royal families, heads of state, government institutions and wealthy individuals – would be targeted as potential investors in a separate investment fund to be based in the Cayman Islands and promising a tax-free income;
- Prince Andrew allowed Jonathan Rowland to accompany him on a taxpayer-funded trade mission to China which Mr Rowland then used to plug his family’s bank. The Duke invited Rowland to choose which meetings he wanted to attend;
- Rowland inserted into Andrew’s China schedule a meeting with Louis Cheung, the president of Ping An, the world’s largest insurance company, worth an estimated £171 billion, and proposed that they could become business partners;
- In an astonishing breach of protocol, Andrew’s aide, Amanda Thirsk, handed the Rowlands a Foreign Office diplomatic cable intended only for government officials that contained details of Andrew’s one-to-one conversations with senior Chinese politicians;
- On another occasion, Andrew demanded a private briefing memo from Treasury chiefs about the Icelandic financial crisis, then passed it to the Rowlands. Months earlier, they had bought part of a collapsed Icelandic bank in a £86 million deal;
- Andrew also took Jonathan Rowland on an official trade mission to Saudi Arabia where the pair met Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abulaziz al Saud, the second son of the country’s current monarch. Following that meeting, Mr Rowland told the Saudi royal, via an aide, that Andrew was considering becoming a partner in his family’s bank and asked him if he would like a stake in it, too;
- In one exchange of emails with the Saudi Prince, Mr Rowland boasted that he acted as a middle man not just for Prince Andrew but for the British Royal Family;
- During another taxpayer-funded trade trip, Prince Andrew lobbied the King of Bahrain about the Rowlands’ plan to open an offshoot of their bank in the Middle Eastern country. He later telephoned an official to help get the potentially lucrative venture off the ground.
The devastating revelations come just weeks after Andrew was stripped of his Royal duties amid anger over his links to Epstein and his calamitous BBC interview.
There are also suggestions that Andrew may have to resign his role leading [email protected], his pet project which matches investors with tech start-up companies, after it emerged he was entitled to a two per cent share of any investment deal struck.
He says he has never taken advantage of that clause. The son of a scrap metal dealer, David Rowland, whose nickname is ‘Spotty’, made his first million aged 24 and went on to amass a property and investment fortune worth a reported £612 million. He and his son Jonathan are ranked 226th in the Sunday Times Rich List
Andrew and publicity-shy David Rowland have been friends since at least 2005. That year, the Prince unveiled a bronze statue of the financier in the grounds of Havilland Hall, Mr Rowland’s sprawling estate in Guernsey. In 2009, Andrew publicly launched the Rowlands’ bank in Luxembourg.
Bought from the ashes of a collapsed Icelandic financial institution, it was renamed Banque Havilland, after Mr Rowland’s Channel Island home. It offered discreet private banking services for the world’s billionaires.
Mr Rowland was invited to Balmoral as Andrew’s guest in 2010 and reportedly met the Queen and had tea with Prince Charles. Four months later, Mr Rowland paid £40,000 to help clear the massive debts of the Duke’s former wife Sarah Ferguson.
Last night, Norman Baker, a former MP who recently published a damning book about Royal finances, said last night: ‘This is outrageous behaviour by Prince Andrew. Any Minister who behaved in this way would be summarily sacked. Even an MP who behaved in this way would face questions from the Commons Standards Committee. We have all had enough of Prince Andrew. He should have his HRH designation removed. As far as I am concerned he should be persona non grata and not be seen in any way to represent this country.’
The MoS approached Buckingham Palace with the results of our investigation last Monday, detailing 24 questions for the Duke.
Six days later, the Palace issued the following statement: ‘The Duke was the UK’s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment between 2001 and July 2011 and in that time the aim, and that of his office, was to promote Britain and British interests overseas, not the interests of individuals.’
The Duke did not provide a comment for publication, and the Rowlands declined to comment for legal reasons.A secretive Caribbean tax haven and an investment fund for the Duke of York’s super rich contacts. So does this help explain how he funds his billionaire lifestyle?