A glamorous Belarusian investment banker could be revealed today as a central figure in a scheme to sell access to the Prince of Wales in exchange for donations to his charities.
Volha Havorchanka – pictured right along with her business partner and society fixer Michael Wynne-Parker – was tasked with introducing wealthy Russians to influential figures in the British establishment.
A series of cash for access revelations by The Mail on Sunday led to an investigation by The Prince’s Foundation and the temporary resignation of Michael Fawcett, the charity’s chief executive and Charles’s most trusted adviser.
Volha Havorchanka (Lebedeva) in a red dress with her husband, Anatoly (left) and Michael Wynne ParkerImage
Ms. Havorchanka denies having knowledge of donations, but the 33-year-old’s involvement raises tantalizing questions about the extent of Russian involvement in Charles’s charitable activities.
It also brings a new dimension to one of the more mysterious elements of the saga: how a £500,000 donation to The Prince’s Foundation from a former Russian banker named Dmitry Leus has apparently disappeared.
Philanthropist Leus says he wanted to donate to The Prince’s Foundation because it shared its values of supporting young people through sport.
Through a British lawyer, he met Ms Havorchanka, who introduced him to Mr Wynne-Parker, her co-director of Introcom Ltd, which helps wealthy – and often foreign – clients gain access to influential British figures.
Mr Leus was advised by Mr Wynne-Parker that the proposed donation of £500,000 could be made through the accounts of Burke’s Peerage, the nobility guide published by William Bortrick.
A £500,000 donation to The Prince’s Foundation from a former Russian banker named Dmitry Leus has apparently disappeared
All seemed well until the father of four, Mr. Leus, learned that The Prince’s Foundation had decided last fall not to accept his money because the ethics committee deemed it inappropriate.
But a year after that decision, Mr Leus, 51, has still not got his money back and has become so annoyed that he has not ruled out going to the police.
When the MoS revealed two weeks ago the contents of an email written by Mr. Wynne-Parker offering dinner and an overnight stay at Dumfries House – the manor in Scotland saved for the nation by Charles in 2007 – in exchange for a six-figure endowment, Mr. Bortrick denied any knowledge of a cash for access scheme or of handling funds.
However, this newspaper has received e-mails from Mr Bortrick to the contrary.
The two emails sent last month state that Mr Leus’s wife, Zhanna, made a payment of £200,000 to Burke’s Peerage on 11 May 2020 marked ‘Charitable Donation HRH Prince of W’. A second payment of £300,000 was made into the same account on Sept 3rd last year.
The emails show that only £100,000 of that amount has been forwarded to The Prince’s Foundation. In an email dated 31 August, Mr Bortrick says: ‘£100,000 was sent in installments on 11 May 2020 to The Prince’s Foundation who have acknowledged the kind benevolence of Mr Leus in writing.’
But when the £100,000 was returned, Mr Bortrick sent it along with another £100,000 to a charity called Children and the Arts in two separate transactions on September 24 and 25 last year.
The charity was founded in 2005 by the Prince of Wales. It later split from its foundation and is now being liquidated.
Curiously, the charity’s latest accounts for the year to 30 September 2020 read: ‘The charity organized itself to secure the funds of £233,000 to settle its remaining debts and facilitate the orderly closure of its business activities. to undertake.’
It is unclear whether the £200,000 donation to Children and the Arts, as described by Mr Bortrick, has been used by the charity to meet its obligations. A spokesman for Hussam Otaibi, a Jordanian commercial banker and chairman of Children and the Arts, declined to say where the £200,000 donation had gone.
In another twist, Mr Bortrick’s emails show that £200,000 has been sent to Introcom International from Mr Wynne-Parker and he says the last £100,000 was ‘retained’ by him. He said the funds “remain safe” for Mr Leus. Mr Bortrick did not respond to requests for comment.
Mr Leus, for his part, simply wants his money back and said last night: ‘My contribution to The Prince’s Foundation was intended to support their educational and heritage goals, in particular their innovative training programs. My goal was never an invitation to dinner or an overnight stay.
“My personal hope was that eventually some collaboration would have been possible with The Prince’s Foundation to establish a national fencing center to bring the sport to underprivileged youth across the country. Since my private charitable donation has been made public in recent media coverage, I need to clarify certain points.
The emails show that just £100,000 of that amount has been forwarded to The Prince’s Foundation
‘Through Burke’s Peerage I have made two separate donations totaling £500,000 to The Prince’s Foundation. I have now learned that not all of these funds were then transferred to The Prince’s Foundation. I got no refund at all from Burke’s Peerage.
“This is especially troubling because these funds could have done so much good for all the children and young people our foundation supports. My commitment to supporting children and young adults in the UK and beyond remains unabated.”
Ms Havorchanka, who studied at London’s City University, declined to comment and denies any knowledge of a ‘cash for access’ scheme involving the Prince and his charities. Intriguingly, however, her profile disappeared from Introcom’s website hours after the MoS revealed the plan’s existence two weeks ago.
Her biography – which has disappeared from the site – read: ‘Volha specializes in working with high net worth individuals and has gained insight into the general requirements of the client.
“Successful people are not only looking for the right place for their money and the right manager, but they also love social opportunities that most successful people find difficult to fulfill.” […] Together with Michael, Volha has achieved great customer satisfaction and peace of mind.’
A source close to Ms Havorchanka, who has been a director of Introcom Ltd since 2017, denied receiving any money earmarked for The Prince’s Foundation, but said Mr Wynne-Parker had recently sent her money for the repayment of a personal loan.
Douglas Connell, chairman of The Prince’s Foundation, said: “Following the publication of an initial allegation involving ‘middlemen’ and donors, the trustees have launched a full and thorough investigation with the help of forensic accountants from one of the ‘big four ‘ accounting. businesses. This investigation is ongoing. The full investigation is expected to take several weeks.’
Charles project ‘saved by prime minister’s flat donor’
By Ashlie McAnally
A Tory donor got caught up in the row over the renovation of Boris Johnson’s flat and also ‘saved’ Prince Charles’ struggling eco-village at Dumfries House.
Lord Brownlow was revealed this year that he had partially funded the work at 11 Downing Street after Mr Johnson’s then-fiancee Carrie Symonds allegedly objected to the ‘John Lewis furniture nightmare’ left by Theresa May.
But the colleague, who was a police officer before making a fortune in the financial sector, also intervened as the Prince of Wales struggled to sell properties in Knockroon in East Ayrshire.
Lord Brownlow was revealed this year to have partially funded the work on No 11 Downing Street
The new development of 770 houses was intended to be Poundbury – the village in Dorset, built to conform to the Prince’s architectural and community values.
In plans drawn up after Charles formed a consortium to buy Dumfries House in 2007, the sale of the homes in Knockroon would raise millions of pounds that could be used to renovate the dilapidated Palladian mansion. But after developers struggled to sell even the first phase of 31 homes, Lord Brownlow’s Havisham investment group stepped in to buy nine properties as a buy-to-let and a pub.
The £45 million acquisition of Dumfries House – including £20 million borrowed through Charles’s charitable organization The Prince’s Foundation – was a financial risk to the future king.
However, it came with 68 acres of farmland where he hoped to create his eco-village and raise more than enough money to repay his charity’s debts and fund ambitious plans to restore Dumfries House. Experts say the plan was worthwhile but misconceived, with the properties too expensive for the former mining area.
The first tranche of flats and houses went on sale in 2011, with a four-bedroom house costing £220,000. By comparison, a three-bedroom property in nearby Cumnock was for sale at the time for £39,950. Knockroon’s failure would explain why Charles turned to donors to fund Dumfries House.
A Tory donor got in line over the renovation of Boris Johnson’s flat and also ‘saved’ Prince Charles
“Charles risked everything financially and emotionally to buy the house and estate,” says royal author Ingrid Seward. ‘Knockroon was crucial for the economy. He wanted to create his own Scottish Poundbury, an exemplary village of sustainable living to offset costs and create long-term sustainability. But so far it hasn’t worked.
“Not building as many houses as he would have liked put pressure on raising money from other sources, including donors.”
Despite the intervention of the Havisham Group, Knockroon developer Hope Homes walked away from the project in 2015.
Lord Brownlow contributed £58,000 to the refurbishment of No 11. Mr Johnson then repaid the money.
The Havisham Group has not responded to requests for comment.
A spokesperson for The Prince’s Foundation said last night: “As our financial statements show, The Prince’s Foundation remains financially sound.”
A source emphasized that the amount borrowed to help make the purchase of Dumfries House in 2007 possible has long since been paid off.