New Delhi: The roughly £2.5 million cash donation accepted by Prince Charles from former Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, between 2011 and 2015, “would not happen again”, a royal source told BBC Thursday.
According to reports earlier this week, the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund had received donations in three payments, in cash stashed in a suitcase and carrier bags. The payments were reportedly made in €500 notes.
While the rules may be different for royals, the UK law states that travellers entering or departing Great Britain must declare cash of £10,000 (Rs 9.58 lakh) or more to UK customs.
Failing to declare cash could result in its seizure by a Border Force officer and may entail a penalty of up to £5,000. Additionally, any cash can be seized if customs authorities have reasonable grounds to suspect a crime. Authorities can keep the cash for 48 hours, after which they require a court order.
According to the laws in Qatar, travellers entering or departing the country must declare cash, precious metals, jewellery or financial bearer negotiable instruments (like traveller’s cheques) which is equal to or over QR 50,000 (Rs 10.8 lakh).
A senior royal source told BBC that all necessary checks and auditing procedures had been secured for the cash to be brought into the UK and accepted by the charity.
“Situations, contexts change over the years,” the source said. “I can say with certainty that for more than half a decade, this has not happened and it will not happen again.”
According to UK newspaper The Sunday Times, the former Qatari PM had on one occasion handed the cash over at Clarence House, the official royal residence of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall.
Sheikh Hamad, who served as Qatar PM from 2007 to 2013 and as head of the country’s sovereign wealth fund during that period, has been described as “the man who bought London”. He reportedly used Qatar’s financial assets for high-profile investments in corporate Britain, including investing in luxury department store Harrods.
He was also named in Panama Papers in 2016 and Pandora Papers in 2021 for allegedly using offshore companies in tax havens.
Controversies around Prince Charles’ charities
This is not the first time that one of Prince Charles’ charities have come under the scanner.
In February this year, British Police launched an investigation into The Prince’s Foundation, one of Prince Charles’ charities, after media reports claimed that a Saudi businessman was promised royal honour and British citizenship in exchange for donations.
In September 2021, The Sunday Times reported that Michael Fawcett, the prince’s former aide and ex-chief executive of the foundation, had allegedly promised to help Saudi business tycoon Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz after he donated approximately £1.5 million to royal charities.