Mystery of the missing £500,000: Prince Charles’ foundation insists it returned Russian banker’s cash… but he says he doesn’t have it
- The Prince’s Foundation said it returned Russian financier Dmitry Leus’ £500,000 donation, but he disputes the money has been put back in his account
- Society fixer Michael Wynne-Parker asked funds to be sent via Burke’s Peerage
- The Foundation said it no longer had access to cash and returned it ‘to source’
A former Russian banker who donated £500,000 to the Prince’s Foundation and expected to secure a trip to Dumfries House – only to have the invitation withdrawn – has sensationally claimed that he hasn’t got the money back yet.
The Mail on Sunday last week revealed that Dmitry Leus had cited the donation in his successful application to the Home Office for British residency.
The financier had agreed the donation with Michael Wynne-Parker, a society fixer who had asked for the funds to be sent to the Prince’s Foundation via a bank account held by Burke’s Peerage, the gentry guide.
Burke’s Peerage denies handling any of the money.
The foundation said last week it no longer had the cash and it had been returned ‘to source’ after questions were raised by its ethics committee about Mr Leus’s suitability as a donor.
Former Russian banker Dmitry Leus (above) donated £500,000 to the Prince’s Foundation and expected to secure a trip to Dumfries House, but claims his offer was revoked and he never saw his money returned
The charity did not say, however, to whom the money had been returned.
Lawyers for Mr Leus said: ‘Our client made a donation to the Prince’s Foundation in good faith via Burke’s Peerage. Burke’s Peerage have not returned any of the money to him.’
They added: ‘It is up to Burke’s Peerage to explain where the funds have gone.’
The Mail on Sunday understands that one payment of £200,000 was sent by Mr Leus’s wife, Zhanna, on May 11, 2020, to Burke’s Peerage. A second bank transfer of £300,000 was made on September 3, 2020.
A source close to Mr Leus said there were concerns that the full £500,000 may not have ever reached the Prince’s Foundation as intended.
In a further twist, the Mahfouz Foundation, a charitable trust run by billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, yesterday claimed it was holding £300,000 of Mr Leus’s funds, and Mr Wynne-Parker, a former trustee of the Mahfouz Foundation, had the remainder.
In a further twist, the Mahfouz Foundation, a charitable trust run by billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, yesterday claimed it was holding £300,000 of Mr Leus’s funds, and Mr Wynne-Parker, a former trustee of the Mahfouz Foundation, had the remainder
A spokesman for the foundation said: ‘The Mahfouz Foundation is holding £300,000 on behalf of Mr Leus and await instructions on that being returned. Mr Wynne-Parker is the trustee of Mr Leus and has the remaining £200,000.’
Informed of the development, Mr Leus’s lawyers said: ‘Our client had never heard of this organisation [the Mahfouz Foundation] until receiving an email from The Mail on Sunday.’
The mystery is yet another insight into the strange and sometimes murky world of the vast charity donations made by wealthy foreigners to the Royal charity.
In an email revealed by this newspaper last week, society fixer Mr Wynne-Parker outlined a scheme by which donors could meet the Prince of Wales for dinner and stay overnight at Dumfries House.
Mr Wynne-Parker said that after middle men – himself included – had taken a 25 per cent cut of the suggested £100,000, the rest would be funnelled through a bank account held by Burke’s Peerage.
Born in Turkmenistan, Mr Leus has Russian and Israeli citizenship, but entered Britain on a European Union passport from Cyprus.
He lives in the Knightsbridge area of London with his wife and their four sons. He was a European fencing champion aged 17 and said in a recent interview: ‘My business mindset was created in the gymnasiums and competition halls of my teenage years.’
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