The Prince of Wales’s former closest aide Michael Fawcett co-ordinated with “fixers” over honours for a donor to The Prince’s Foundation, an investigation into the cash for honours claims has found.
Mr Fawcett, who resigned as the Foundation’s chief executive after a string of allegations, was also involved in directing money from a Saudi billionaire’s foundation to another charity of which Charles was patron, it was revealed.
Dame Sue Bruce, chair of the Prince’s Foundation, described the recent crises surrounding the future king’s charitable organisation as a “difficult chapter”, but said “lessons will be learned” to ensure the charity always acts with the “utmost integrity and probity”.
A Clarence House spokesman said the Prince was “grateful” to independent auditors for reviewing procedures.
He added: “It is important to His Royal Highness that the charities which bear his name operate to the highest standards, in accordance with rules established by charity regulators.
“We are taking this opportunity to reinforce guidance to these charities, particularly in respect of their relationships with supporters.”
Listen to our royal podcast, the Royal Rota:
The independent investigation into fundraising practices was ordered by the Foundation and carried out independently by auditing firm Ernst & Young.
Its findings, released on Thursday, will be shared with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), which is examining dealings at the Foundation.
A summary of the findings revealed that Mr Fawcett and another unnamed senior employee were involved in directing a transfer of funds from the Mahfouz Foundation to the Children and the Arts Foundation (CATA), which is now defunct.
The activity, including written correspondence, took place without the knowledge or approval of The Prince’s Foundation trustees, according to the investigation.
It's difficult for Michael Fawcett to be reinstated to the Prince of Wales' team, as ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship explains
The Charity Commission has launched an inquiry into the Mahfouz Foundation, which was founded by Saudi billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, into allegations that donations intended for the Prince’s Foundation went to CATA instead.
The Prince’s Foundation initially received £100,000 from Russian banker Dmitry Leus, via the Mahfouz Foundation, but Charles’s charity’s ethics committee rejected the money and returned it to the Mahfouz Foundation.
Mr Fawcett was subsequently involved in directing a transfer of funds from the Mahfouz Foundation to CATA, the summary said.
The investigation also found evidence of Mr Fawcett’s “communications and co-ordination” with “so-called ‘fixers’ regarding honorary nominations for a donor between 2014-18”, the summary said, but trustees were not aware at the time of this correspondence.
Dame Sue said: “The board of trustees agreed unequivocally that the recent allegations had to be independently investigated so that the facts could be established, and all necessary steps could be taken to address the issues identified.
“Now that the board has the findings of the investigation, trustees are considering them in conjunction with OSCR and other relevant parties.
“The board of trustees is determined that lessons will be learned to ensure that, in future, our charity maintains the highest standards in all areas and always acts with the utmost integrity and probity.
“As we move through this difficult chapter, I hope that the stories of note will begin to focus once more on the beneficial outcomes delivered by The Prince’s Foundation, and we look forward with optimism to continuing to deliver our charitable activities.”
Other findings from the probe included that there was no evidence that employees or trustees of the Foundation were aware of private dinners being sold or arranged in exchange for money.