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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Paradise Papers: Prince Charles profited from stake in friend’s offshore firm

The Duchy of Cornwall has claimed it has no knowledge of the investments made on its behalf

Prince Charles has come under fire for investments made by the Duchy of Cornwall. Yui Mok/Getty Images
Prince Charles has come under fire for investments made by the Duchy of Cornwall. Yui Mok/Getty Images

The latest batch of revelations from the Paradise Papers show that Prince Charles invested millions of pounds in offshore funds, through the Duchy of Cornwall, with some of the money going to a firm registered in Bermuda which was run by one of his oldest friends.

The BBC reports that in addition, the prince campaigned to change climate-change agreements that would benefit the companies that he was investing in.

The Duchy of Cornwall, a 680-year-old private estate which provide Prince Charles with an income and owns 53,000 hectares of land in 23 counties, bought shares worth $113,500 in Sustainable Forestry Management Ltd. The director of the company was Hugh van Cutsem, who the prince had known since meeting him at Cambridge University in the 1960s.

The Duchy of Cornwall has claimed it has no knowledge of the investments made on its behalf and the is no accusation that the prince knew that he would benefit from his lobbying.

A Clarence House spokesman told the BBC that Prince of Wales had “certainly never chosen to speak out on a topic simply because of a company that it may have invested in.

“In the case of climate change his views are well known, indeed he has been warning of the threat of global warming to our environment for over 30 years.

“Carbon markets are just one example that the prince has championed since the 1990s and which he continues to promote today.”

Sir Alistair Graham, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, a body instituted in 1994 to police ethical standards of British public life, said the prince’s actions could be a serious conflict of interest.

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“There’s a conflict of interest between his own investments of the Duchy of Cornwall and what he's trying to achieve publicly.

“And I think it’s unfortunate that somebody of his importance, of his influence, becomes involved in such a serious conflict.”

According to The Guardian, the investment was considered to be so “sensitive” that directors of the company, which was buying up land to stop it from being deforested, were told to not disclose the Duchy’s involvement.

The Labour MP and tax campaigner Margaret Hodge told the newspaper that the revelations proved the need for greater transparency.

“It seems clear to me that Prince Charles could not have known or understood the nature of the investment in his friend’s company,” she said.

“What is clear is that there should be proper transparency of all investments made by the Duchy of Cornwall, that the Prince of Wales should not be involved in investment decisions and that the Treasury should monitor the investments to ensure that the reputation and integrity of our royal family is protected.”