The heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, accepted three lots of cash, totalling just over $3 million during meetings with Qatari billionaire and politician Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al-Thani.
Charles accepted the cash from Al-Thani, the former prime minister of Qatar, between 2011 and 2015, the Sunday Times revealed yesterday. On one occasion, the 62-year-old presented Charles with €1 million, which was reportedly stuffed into carrier bags. On another, Charles, accepted a holdall containing a further €1 million during a private one-on-one meeting at Clarence House in 2015.
After receiving the money delivered in small suitcases, it was given to two advisers in the royal household who hand-counted the money. It was said to have been paid in the form of €500 notes.
The payment has raised further speculations around the "cash for access" scandal. Many see such practices – including "cash for honours" – as a threat to British democracy. Honours, including membership of the House of Lords, are often handed out to donors to political parties.
In February, a letter was sent to the Met naming Prince Charles and former top aide Michael Fawcett regarding a knighthood and British citizenship given to Saudi billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak Bin Mahfouz. The Met confirmed in a brief statement that an investigation had been opened after allegations of offers of help being given to the Saudi national to obtain honours and citizenship.
Though there is no suggestion the payments were illegal, it has raised questions about an ongoing problem with access to power in British politics obtained through payments by wealthy donors and foreign billionaires.
In a statement, a Clarence House spokesperson said the money given during the 2015 meeting was "passed immediately to one of the prince's charities who carried out the appropriate covenants and assured us that all the correct processes were followed."