A Qatari prince was awarded a Master's degree from the prestigious University of Southern California (USC), despite barely attending classes, an investigation by the Los Angeles Times has found.
Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, 28, graduated from USC with a bachelor's degree in 2015 and later received a Master's in public diplomacy.
However, according to the LA Times' investigation, the prince, who is the brother of the current emir of Qatar, barely set foot on campus or attended classes.
Al Thani avoided classes by citing "security reasons" and was given "special dispensation" to study for his Master's remotely from Europe, according to the LA Times. However, such "special dispensation" had never before, nor has been since, granted to any USC student.
Instead, the prince lived a lavish lifestyle that involved gambling, which is illegal in Qatar, yachting, skydiving and driving expensive sports cars. Al Thani reportedly stayed in the Beverly Wilshire hotel during his studies, with his employees living out of $600-a-night rooms.
"From the moment Al Thani stepped off the plane, an entire economy quickly grew up around him to meet his wishes and whims," the LA Times' report claimed.
Al Thani was looked after by a host of employees including "chauffeurs, a security detail, concierges, trainers, a nurse, an all-purpose fixer and even, according to several USC faculty members, a graduate student who served as his academic "sherpa."".
The report terms those who helped the Qatari prince "enablers", claiming staff, including one USC professor, received opulent gifts in return for allowing Al Thani to flout university rules and land on the dean's list three times.
The LA Times reported one USC professor received a $12,500 Rolex along with Al Thani's final paper for the course. The professor attempted to return the item but found it was already registered in his name.
Responding to the claims, the Prince's attorney David Keyko wrote in a letter to the LA Times: "Your research thus far has turned up suspicions, suppositions and multiple levels of hearsay about matters that, if they took place at all, happened years ago."
The allegations first came to light after the LA Times reportedly received a tip to look into Al Thani's education at USC in the wake of last year's college admissions scandal.
The scandal, which does not involve Al Thani or his family, according to the report, unearthed allegations that underqualified offspring had landed coveted university places after their wealthy parents got involved.