The Duke of York and his ex-wife have been named in a High Court battle brought by a Turkish millionaire who claims she was scammed out of almost £40m by a fraudster.
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson allegedly received “suspicious” payments totalling more than £1m on the orders of Selman Turk, a former Goldman Sachs banker accused of cheating Nebahat Isbilen out of her fortune.
The payments to the Royal included a £750,000 “gift” from 76-year-old Isbilen, “who was told she was paying for help with a passport so she could flee political persecution in her homeland”, reported The Telegraph.
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A further payment of £350,000 linked to Turk was allegedly made to Andrew through a third party account, and £225,000 is said to have been transferred to his former wife, with whom the duke still lives.
There is “no suggestion of any wrongdoing on their part” and Andrew has repaid the £750,000, said the Daily Mail. But there was “no explanation from the prince about the mystery” surrounding the payment “or of how he became involved”, the paper reported, after a spokesperson for Andrew declined to comment.
According to The Telegraph, the first payment to the duke “came days after Mr Turk had won an award” at a Dragon’s Den-style project known as Pitch@Palace set up by Andrew.
In her witness statement, Isbilen said: “I can only wonder if there is any connection between this event and the Duke of York transfer.”
Isbilen came to live in Britain after her politician husband was jailed in 2015 following an attempted coup in Turkey. She entrusted her $87m (£66m) fortune to London-based Turkish businessman Turk, who was tasked with moving her wealth out of reach of her husband’s political enemies in Turkey, the court heard.
Isbilen claims that Turk “breached fiduciary obligations he owed to her” and “advances claims in deceit”.
Court documents show that her lawyer Jonathan Tickner wrote to Andrew in March last year, but the royal “‘declined’ to respond to questions or give any account of his relationship” with Turk, The Telegraph reported.
‘Dogged by criticism’
The High Court court battle comes just a month after Andrew settled a civil case in the US with his sexual abuse accuser, Virginia Roberts Giuffre. The duke has denied all of Giuffre’s allegations against him.
Although Andrew has not commented publicly on the fraud case, a spokesperson for his ex-wife told The Telegraph that “the duchess was completely unaware of the allegations that have since emerged” against Turk and was “naturally concerned by what has been alleged against him”.
But despite there being no suggestion of wrongdoing by the Yorks in the latest legal scandal, they have been “dogged by criticism of their financial affairs”, the paper said. The pair have made headlines over dealings including “taking money from Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire financier and convicted paedophile, and the sale of their former marital home for an inflated fee to the son-in-law of Kazakhstan’s autocratic former president”.
The duke has also been accused of having repeatedly exploited his role as Britain’s trade envoy to further his own financial interests.
And he faced a fresh wave of criticism this week, after escorting the Queen at a memorial service for the Duke of Edinburgh. Some commentators slated the move, which Kevin Maguire of the Daily Mirror described as a “cynical, gratuitously offensive attempt by the Queen to rehabilitate” her “shamed son”.
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