Royalty is not exempt from connections to offshore banking, but when those connections surface, they have to deal with even more scrutiny than other high-net-worth individuals would. A recent investigation showed that a large donation to restore one of the estates belonging to Prince Charles originated from a Russian offshore banking network.
The Details of the Donation
The estate in question is the royal estate of Dumfries House in Ayrshire. The investigation revealed that Troika Dialog, a Russian launderer, funded the restoration of this estate. This came following a donation to Prince Charles’ Foundation in the amount of $202,000 (£154,065).
To make this donation even more worthy of scrutiny, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project revealed that in contributing the donation, the offshore banking network was serving as a money launderer or “laundromat” as the investigation referred to it. The goal of this “laundromat” was to assist Russian elites’ financial interests.
Further Details on Troika Dialog
There are numerous of these “laundromats” that help corrupt organizations and individuals with investments in criminal methods along with laundering of money and hiding offshore accounts. Troika Dialog as an investment bank has sent over $470 billion in a total of 1.3 million leaked transactions spread throughout 233,000 companies.
With such a massive reach and high use, it is safe to say that numerous Russian politicians and oligarchs would be able to acquire shares in companies that are state-owned and do so secretly. Sergei Roldugin, a close friend of Vladimir Putin, has close ties to Troika Dialog. The offshore bank allegedly helped with transferring $70 million to him. The extent of Roldugin’s sudden wealth was not revealed until the Panama Papers since he hid it via offshore dealings.
Connecting Troika Dialog to Prince Charles
With an important figure like Prince Charles having involvement with Troika Dialog, it is natural to wonder how this involvement began. The connections go back to 2009. Troika Dialog is now called Sberbank CIB and Ruben Vardanyan, a Russian oligarch, was the bank’s CEO between 1992 and 2012. In 2009, he donated the amount of $100,000 (£76,249) to the Prince’s Foundation.
As a thank you for this donation, Prince Charles held a black-tie dinner the same year for Vardanyan. Sources indicate that over the years, the connections and relationship between Prince Charles and Vardanyan have grown. January 2010 saw the donation of another £38,000, followed by another £25,000 in May 2011. These funds were transferred via Quanta Division, a former Lithuanian bank that was registered in the known tax haven of the Virgin Islands.
The previously mentioned donations from Vardanyan were on behalf of the bank. He also made donations from his personal funds. These included £1.5 million to help refurbish an outbuilding on the estate, The Mains.
No Responsibility for Laundering Connections
Even with the various investigations conducted by organizations and reporters, Vardanyan claims to have been unaware of transactions within Troika Dialog that would raise scrutiny. His defense is that it would be impossible to be aware of every single transaction given the size of the bank.
Vardanyan also explicitly said that he’s “no angel” and explained that he is a conformist as in Russia, the only other options are to leave or be a revolutionary. Vardanyan indicates he has internal restraints and does not work with criminals, participate in political parties, or participate in schemes with loans for shares.
It is very possible that Prince Charles was completely unaware of the money’s original source, something even the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project admits. Additionally, Clarence House repeated that Prince Charles’ charities operate independently of him in regard to fundraising decisions.
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