Long-time aide to Prince Charles, Michael Fawcett, has stepped down as the head of the Prince’s charity amid allegations that he used his position to help secure a Saudi billionaire a so-called UK ‘golden visa’, otherwise known as the Tier 1 investor visa.
Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, a Saudi Arabian billionaire, reportedly paid tens of thousands of dollars to be granted the title of honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire [OBE], which is one of the highest accolades a non-UK citizen can receive, according to a report published by The Sunday Times.
Fawcett was reportedly paid to facilitate securing the title for the Saudi billionaire, which helped him to apply for a golden visa with a view to obtaining UK citizenship and residency. The Prince of Wales personally granted Mahfouz his honorary title during a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace back in 2016.
Not made official
However, the private ceremony was not disclosed on the official list of royal engagements, prompting suspicions. Mahfouz has denied any wrongdoing, despite being one of the biggest donors to the Prince’s charities.
The Saudi billionaire even has a forest named after him after reportedly donating more than $2 million to fund restoration projects across Prince Charles’ estates and charities. Amid the allegations of ‘buying his way into Britain’, Mahfouz described himself as an ‘honourable philanthropist’.
A series of leaked emails, seen by The Times, reportedly name Fawcett as ‘the middleman’ and explicitly show that donations made by Mahfouz were in exchange for his honorary title.
One email between a paid advisor of Mahfouz and William Bortrick, the owner of Burke’s Peerage publication, states that the award was ‘promised to Mahfouz in order to get the £1.5 million he paid for Dumfries House and the Castle of Mey’, two of Prince Charles projects, according to The Times.
Bortrick went on to say: “Michael Fawcett needs to keep his side of the bargain and sort out the honorary award immediately, then assist with UK citizenship.”
Mahfouz and Prince meeting
Mr Fawcett was able to arrange a meeting between Mahfouz and the Prince of Wales, which directly led to the Saudi billionaire receiving his award.
For the past 10 years, Fawcett helped to run The Prince Foundation – an umbrella organisation for several charities, projects and educational opportunities centred at the Dumfries House estate in Scotland - and was once described by Charles as an ‘indispensable aide’.
In 2003, Mr Fawcett resigned from Charles’ service following a report published by Sir Michael Peat, which revealed incidents of mismanagement within Clarence House.
Prince Charles has denied any knowledge of the alleged ‘cash-for-honours’ scandal involving his former aide and Mahfouz.
New report released on UK golden visa
Workpermit.com recently reported that a new report had been published regarding the so-called UK golden visa. The report, released by UK-based anti-corruption charity, Spotlight on Corruption, lists the top-ranking countries whose citizens have been granted the so-called UK golden visa.
According to the report, China tops the list for the most UK investor visas issued with 4,106. Meanwhile, Russia (2,526) was second on the list followed by Hong Kong (692) the United States (685), Pakistan (283), Kazakhstan (278) and India (254).
Saudi Arabia (223), Turkey (221) and Egypt with 206 complete the top 10 list of countries whose citizens have received the most UK investor visas.
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