A charity watchdog has launched an investigation into financial transactions used to bail out the Prince of Wales’s struggling eco-village in Scotland.
The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) is already examining fundraising practices at the Prince’s Foundation, following allegations that the Prince of Wales’ closest former aide co-ordinated with “fixers” over honours nominations for a Saudi billionaire donor.
Michael Fawcett resigned as the foundation’s chief executive in November, amid claims he promised to help secure a knighthood and British citizenship for Saudi billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz.
Mr Fawcett was involved in directing money from Mahfouz’s foundation to another charity of which the Prince was patron.
Now it can be revealed that the OSCR is also examining the way Lord Brownlow’s Havisham investment group stepped in to buy nine properties at Knockroon in East Ayrshire, where a new development of more than 700 homes was planned along the lines of Poundbury – the Dorset village built to reflect the Prince’s architectural and community values.
Widening scope of the investigation
In its accounts for the year up to March 2021, published last week, the Prince’s Foundation said the OSCR had widened the scope of its probe, stating: “The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, in addition to reviewing the Trustee response in relation to the press allegations made against the Foundation, also enquired into certain historical property transactions.”
The sale of the Knockroon properties had been intended to raise millions of pounds needed to restore run down Dumfries House, which Prince Charles acquired in 2007 along with the land for the eco-village, for £45 million, including £20 million borrowed through the Prince’s Foundation.
The sum has long since been paid off, but developers had been struggling to sell even the first phase of 31 houses after they went on sale from 2011, until Lord Brownlow stepped in to buy the nine properties as buy-to-lets and a cafe.