Prince Andrew allegedly received “suspicious” payments of over 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) by a suspected fraudster.
The Duke of York and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, have been linked to a High Court battle over missing money after allegedly receiving money on the orders of former Goldman Sachs banker Selman Turk as part of a 40-million pound ($65 million) international fraud.
The payments are said to have included a 750,000-pound ($1.2 million) “gift” to Andrew from Nebahat Evyap Isbilen, a 76-year-old Turkish millionairess, who was told the sum was to pay for help with a passport in order to flee political persecution but now believes that was “false.”
The first sum was given to the duke on Nov. 15, 2019, days after Turk had won an award at Andrew’s Pitch@Palace business competition, and Isbilen has told the High Court she believes the payment was connected to the banker’s appearance at the event at St. James’ Palace.
The woman, who had intended the royal event, which she believes may have been at the invitation of Turk, said in her witness statement: “I can only wonder if there is any connection between this event and the Duke of York transfer.”
Court documents obtained by the Daily Telegraph newspaper showed Isbilen’s lawyer, Jonathan Tickner, wrote to Andrew in March last year but he “declined” to respond to any questions or give any account of his relationship with Turk. He has repaid the 750,000 pounds.
Additional payments totaling 350,000 pounds ($573,600) to Andrew that have been linked to Turk were made to the prince through the account of a third party, Alphabet Capital Ltd., which also paid out 225,000 pounds ($369,000) to Sarah.
Jonathan noted in documents: “The pattern of payments is … consistent with a calculated attempt to facilitate transfers to Prince Andrew and to mask the source of funds.”
And he argued that “given the circumstances” of the 750,000-pound payment and the timings and references of the additional payments, there were “strong grounds for inferring” they were made on the instruction of Turk.
Sarah received payments after being unveiled as brand ambassador for Pegasus Group Holdings in July 2019.
Bank records show US$25,000 was transferred to Turk from the renewable energy company four months later under the reference “Duchess fee pop service,” with regular payments totaling at least 225,000 pounds subsequently transferred to an account in the duchess’ name from the Alphabet account under the reference “PEG001.”
Her spokesperson said: “The Duchess was completely unaware of the allegations that have since emerged against Mr Turk. She is naturally concerned with what has been alleged against him.”
Isbilen is suing Turk and various businesses connected with him for the return of around 40 million pounds ($65 million) and her lawyer, Jonathan Tickner, said she is “determined to prosecute her claims against all those involved.”
He said: “Mrs Isbilen is the victim of serious fraud and financial wrongdoing carried out at the hands of Selman Turk, a man she trusted to help her through extremely difficult circumstances.
“He abused her trust and she has brought her claim in the High Court to recover the money taken from her. The court documents and decisions given in her case to date speak for themselves. She is determined to prosecute her claims against all those involved in the fraud.”
Turk, whose assets have been frozen, has denied the allegations against him.
Andrew declined to comment.