UK: MPs Call For Probe of Prince Andrew's Deals in Kazakhstan

Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom (UK) are call­ing for a probe into Prince Andrew’s busi­ness deals in Kazakhstan after the Daily Mail obtained a set of leaked emails and report­ed on how the Duke of York was alleged­ly con­duct­ing busi­ness with Kazakhstan’s elite while act­ing as rov­ing trade ambas­sador for the UK.

Prince Andrew osten­si­bly act­ed as a mid­dle­man help­ing a Greek sewage com­pa­ny and a Swiss finance house pur­sue a £ 385 mil­lion (US$ 561.6 mil­lion) con­tract in Kazakhstan, the Daily Mail report­ed. Andrew was alleged­ly going to be offered near­ly £ 4 mil­lion (US$ 5.8 mil­lion) to con­vince a Kazakh oli­garch, Kenges Rakishev, to sup­port the bids.

The emails, pub­lished by the Daily Mail, also showed the extent of Andrew’s rela­tion­ship to Kazakhstan’s elite and the con­flict of inter­ests of work­ing on pri­vate busi­ness while in a pub­lic role.

The Duke and his staff alleged­ly orga­nized the £15 mil­lion (US$ 21.8 mil­lion) sale of Andrew’s man­sion, Sunninghill Park, in 2007 to Kazakh oli­garch Timur Kulibayev, the son-in-law of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The price of the prop­er­ty was “huge­ly inflat­ed” at £ 3 mil­lion (US$ 4.3 mil­lion) above the ask­ing price, accord­ing to the Daily Mail.

Rakishev, alleged­ly a friend of Andrew, nego­ti­at­ed the pur­chase of Sunninghill Park in 2007. Rakishev is a close ally of Kazakhstan’s pres­i­dent, the Daily Mail said.

Andrew per­suad­ed the Crown Estate to offer the bil­lion­aire Kulibayev a “graz­ing license” at a low rent of £ 200 (US$ 292) per acre for land close to Sunninghill although that deal was nev­er final­ized, the Daily Mail said. He also sought to arrange for high-lev­el fig­ures at the state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland to dis­cuss wealth man­age­ment for Kulibayev through their sub­sidiary Coutts.

The man­sion Kulibayev pur­chased from Andrew remained emp­ty for eight years before it was demol­ished ear­li­er this year.

MPs have come for­ward to ques­tion Prince Andrew on the mat­ter. “No one should be above the law and if evi­dence is put for­ward, then it should be inves­ti­gat­ed with­out fear or favor,” Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told the Daily Mail.

Sir Vince Cable, the for­mer busi­ness sec­re­tary, said: “It would not be right for him to be speak­ing for the British Government,” and called for the pre­ven­tion of Andrew from play­ing any offi­cial role in rep­re­sent­ing British trade overseas.

I don’t think there has been enough trans­paren­cy or scruti­ny on the way this neb­u­lous role has been used,” said Chris Bryant, Shadow Commons leader. “When I was at the Foreign Office, nobody could ever tell whether he was look­ing out for him­self or whether he real­ly had the inter­ests of the coun­try at heart.”

Buckingham Palace has denied Andrew’s involve­ment in the sale of the prop­er­ty to the oli­garch. Andrew’s spokesman ini­tial­ly denied that the prince had done any work for the Swiss and Greek firms. Daily Mail reporters pro­vid­ed the palace with a copy of an email which Andrew sent to Rakishev on behalf of both com­pa­nies on Apr. 14, 2011. The palace claimed the email was a forgery but then tried to stop its pub­li­ca­tion on pri­va­cy grounds.

WRITTEN BY STELLA ROQUE

UK: MPs Call For Probe of Prince Andrew’s Deals in Kazakhstan

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