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Prince Andrew used his royal connection to help a controversial tycoon

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 27/11/2021 Mark Hookham and Isabel Oakeshott For The Mail On Sunday
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Prince Andrew worked secretly behind the scenes to help a controversial multi-millionaire open a bank for the super-rich in Monaco, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Bombshell emails leaked to this newspaper reveal how the Duke of York contacted the office of Albert II, the sovereign Prince of Monaco, on behalf of his financier friend David Rowland and asked for information about how to open a new bank in the principality.

The Duke, who was the UK's taxpayer-funded trade envoy at the time, then offered to provide further help to the Rowland family ahead of a planned meeting with Prince Albert.

The revelation comes after reports that Mr Rowland, one of the Tory Party's top donors, paid off a £1.5 million loan in December 2017 given to Andrew by Banque Havilland, a Luxembourg-based bank controlled by the Rowland family.

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The MoS revealed two years ago how Prince Andrew quietly used his extraordinary Royal connections to plug Banque Havilland during his decade as UK trade envoy.

Bought from the ashes of a collapsed Icelandic financial institution, Banque Havilland offered discreet private banking services for the world's billionaires and was named after David Rowland's Channel Island home. Andrew publicly opened its Luxembourg headquarters in September 2009.

Now, leaked emails reveal that just three months later, Prince Andrew was quietly helping his friend expand the fledgling bank to the tax haven and billionaires' playground of Monaco.

An email to the Duke from Heather Acheson, Prince Albert's principal attaché, suggests that Andrew had contacted the office of his fellow Royal and asked about the process for opening a bank in the principality.

'In answer to your question How difficult is it to get a banking license [sic] in and for Monaco?,' Ms Acheson wrote.

'The Monegasque Authorities don't restrict access to foreign banks on the territory; new banks are most welcome provided they fulfil the "fitness and properness" criteria.'

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She then responded to what appeared to be a second question from Andrew about the process 'one would have to go through' to open a bank by sending him an internet link to a page on France's central bank's website which explained the licensing process.

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'Please inform [me] if I may be of further assistance Your Highness,' she added.

The following day, Prince Andrew forwarded Ms Acheson's reply to Jonathan Rowland, David Rowland's son and then director of Banque Havilland.

'Here is the Monaco first response,' he wrote. 'I will be going down in March to see P Albert so between now and then we can do more if required.'

The Court Circular, the official register of Royal engagements, reveals that Prince Andrew did indeed travel to Monaco on March 4, 2010, where he attended a dinner for the Outward Bound Trust that was hosted by the Prince of Monaco.

It is unclear whether Prince Andrew provided any further help or, indeed, whether he raised the matter personally with Prince Albert.

However, in April 2012, Banque Havilland did open a subsidiary in Monaco after buying another private bank there called Dexia Private bank.

The Duke of York was the guest of honour at the opening ceremony, which was not an official Royal visit and not recorded in the Court Circular.

David Rowland reportedly organised a private jet to take Andrew to the elite gathering.

At the time, Jonathan Rowland described Monaco as 'the perfect location for us to grow and drive our business forward'.

Prince Andrew was, however, criticised by the late Labour MP Paul Flynn for giving his 'seal of approval' to the bank.

The Luxembourg regulator fined Banque Havilland €4 million (£3.5 million) in 2018 for not having adequate safeguards in place to protect against money-laundering – one of the biggest fines it had ever levied.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Andrew allowed a £1.5 million loan to be paid off by David Rowland in December 2017, despite rules telling Royals to avoid gifts that 'would, or might appear to, place [them] under any obligation to the donor'.

The revelation has renewed calls for MPs to investigate the Duke of York's finances.

Former Government Minister Norman Baker, who wrote a damning book on Royal finances, called on HMRC to also investigate Prince Andrew's activities.

He said: 'The more that is uncovered about Andrew's financial dealings, the more unsavoury it becomes. It's very clear that Prince Andrew, while officially working for the Government, was also working as a private consultant to boost the fortunes of the Rowlands.'

The Duke of York and Jonathan Rowland declined to comment. Prince Albert's office did not respond to a request for comment.

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