The Duke of York’s lavish lifestyle is well documented, from the luxury ski chalet in Verbier to premium Bentleys to a penchant for upscale golf resorts, yachts and exclusive vacation destinations.
The source of his wealth has long remained a mystery, however, which is not explained by his modest Navy pension and the Queen’s annual grant of £ 250,000.
A cache of newly unearthed bank documents now helps shed light on the problem, suggesting that a £ 1.5 million bank loan has been repaid by his friend David Rowland.
The controversial Tory donor reportedly transferred £ 1.5million to the Duke in December 2017, just days after borrowing a similar amount from Banque Havilland, the tiny Luxembourg bank that the Rowlands bought in 2009.
The £ 1.5 million loan taken out by the Duke in November 2017 replaced a previous £ 1.25 million loan that has been extended or increased ten times since 2015, according to Bloomberg News.
The additional £ 250,000 was earmarked for “general working capital and living expenses.” At the time, the duke was a working member of the royal family.
The unsecured loan contradicts the “risk tolerance of the bank”, it says in an internal loan application. However, it was approved in part because it “opened up further business with the royal family” and would be honored by the queen.
A document viewed by Bloomberg states: “Although the (increased) loan is unsecured and is only granted against the credibility of the applicant, both his position and his mother as the sovereign monarch of the United Kingdom should provide access to funds for repayment if necessary Being.”
Other questions raised
The loan was due in March 2018 but was repaid early with £ 1,503,000 transferred to the Duke by a Guernsey-registered company controlled by the Rowland family.
The revelations will raise further questions about the Duke’s relationship with Mr. Rowland. The two have been friends since at least 2005 when the Duke flew to Guernsey to unveil a bronze statue of the financier at his home.
Mr. Rowland, a former scrap dealer, was once called a “seedy financier” in Parliament and declined to take up the post of Conservative Treasurer in 2010 after raising awareness of his business and personal life.
In 2010 he was invited to Balmoral, where he allegedly met the Queen and had tea with the Prince of Wales.
That same year, Mr Rowland, who allegedly co-owned an offshore fund in the British Virgin Islands with the Duke, paid £ 40,000 to pay off the Duchess of York’s debts.
The Duke was later forced to decline the businessman’s request for payment when it was found the money had been transferred after officially opening Banque Havilland’s first branch in 2009.
Three years later he opened the bank’s branch in Monaco. In 2018, a year after Mr Rowland appeared to have paid off his loan, the Duke appeared at the opening ceremony of the bank’s joint venture with the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund.
Friendship triggers reproaches
Their friendship later led to allegations that the Duke had repeatedly exploited his role as British trade envoy to further his own financial interests.
Buckingham Palace’s official gift policy states that nothing should be accepted which this member of the royal family “owes in any way to the donor” and that money should never be accepted in connection with an official engagement or duty.
A spokesman for the Duke said Tuesday: “The Duke is entitled to a certain level of privacy in the conduct of his perfectly legitimate personal financial affairs, with all reasonable accounting procedures in place and all taxes properly paid.”
A spokesman for the bank said there was no comment on alleged customers, transactions, loans and refinancing. They added, “The bank is independently run and David Rowland is and has never been an employee or director of it. The bank can therefore not comment on matters affecting him.
“Compliance with legal and regulatory requirements is a top priority for the bank. Any conclusion about misconduct is categorically denied. “
Mr Rowland, 76, who donated more than £ 6 million to the Conservative Party, made no reply to Bloomberg.