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Statement from the chair

The findings from an independent investigation into allegations relating to fundraising practices have now been received by The Prince’s Foundation and are being considered by its trustees. The findings have been shared with relevant third parties.

Dame Sue Bruce, chair of the board of trustees of The Prince’s Foundation, today issued the following statement:

“The board of trustees agreed unequivocally that the recent allegations had to be independently investigated so that the facts could be established, and all necessary steps could be taken to address the issues identified. Now that the board has the findings of the investigation, trustees are considering them in conjunction with OSCR and other relevant parties.

“The board of trustees is determined that lessons will be learned to ensure that, in future, our charity maintains the highest standards in all areas and always acts with the utmost integrity and probity. As we move through this difficult chapter, I hope that the stories of note will begin to focus once more on the beneficial outcomes delivered by The Prince’s Foundation, and we look forward with optimism to continuing to deliver our charitable activities.”

Summary of findings

The independent investigation found that:

  • There is no evidence that employees or trustees of The Prince’s Foundation were aware of private dinners being “sold” or arranged in exchange for money.
  • With respect to the allegation of securing honours for a donor in exchange for donations, there is evidence that communication and co-ordination took place between the CEO at the time and so-called ‘fixers’ regarding honorary nominations for a donor between 2014-18. There is no evidence that trustees at the time were aware of these communications.
  • In the case of the donation from Mr Leus, The Prince’s Foundation’s Ethics Committee process was followed. A donation of £100,000 was initially approved and accepted by the Ethics Committee. When further information came to light, the Ethics Committee decided to reject the donation and asked for the money to be returned, which it was. The amount received and returned by The Prince’s Foundation was £100,000 and not £500,000 as has been reported. In addition, the funds were received from the Mahfouz Foundation and not direct from Mr Leus, and were returned to the same source.
  • The former CEO and another senior employee were subsequently involved in directing a transfer of funds from the Mahfouz Foundation to another charity, the Children and the Arts Foundation (CATA). This activity, including written correspondence, was undertaken without the knowledge or approval of the trustees.
  • No evidence was found of commissions paid by The Prince’s Foundation to William Bortrick or Michael Wynne-Parker. The investigation did identify other instances of commissions being discussed or paid. It is not uncommon for charities to pay commission to third parties for the introduction of donors.

Investigation Overview

  • An internal investigation was launched in early September 2021 by the trustees into press allegations regarding The Prince’s Foundation. EY was asked to provide forensic support to the investigation.
  • The scope of the investigation was initially agreed by trustees and EY. As new allegations came to light, it was decided that EY should conduct the investigation independently. No restrictions were placed on the subjects or individuals covered. It was not possible for EY to interview the CEO in post during this period.
  • While the investigation has been ongoing, trustees of The Prince’s Foundation have launched a robust and detailed governance review, in line with the Charity Governance Code, which will consider the Code’s seven principles and recommended practices.
  • This governance review will incorporate the findings from the independent investigation.
  • Standard HR policy means we cannot discuss the details of individuals named in the investigation.
  • £100,000 was received by The Prince’s Foundation from Dmitri Leus via the Mahfouz Foundation; upon further information coming to light, £100,000 was returned to source at the instruction of the Ethics Committee. While donations of other amounts relating to this donor have been reported in the press, these were never received by the Prince’s Foundation.