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Prince Andrew used position as Britain’s trade envoy to help tycoon plug private bank

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Because the Duke of York slowly walked his youngest daughter Eugenie up the aisle final 12 months, they handed a chubby-faced, grey-haired man standing within the entrance row of the congregation, simply yards from the nervous groom. 

From his place alongside supermodel Kate Moss, David ‘Spotty’ Rowland leaned ahead and smiled affectionately because the Princess joined Jack Brooksbank within the magnificent St George’s Chapel.

Regardless of his distinguished place, few would have recognised the diminutive tycoon. In any case, Mr Rowland, 74, is notoriously publicity-shy and spent a lot of his skilled life efficiently avoiding being photographed in public. This Royal Marriage ceremony, nonetheless, was an vital sufficient event for him to step out of the shadows.

Andrew’s shut friendship with Mr Rowland, a former tax exile for greater than 30 years, was already controversial. The Mail on Sunday has beforehand revealed how the secretive financier helped repay the Duchess of York’s huge money owed – simply months after he met the Queen and Prince Charles at Balmoral – and the way he and Andrew secretly flew to Libya collectively. 

Tycoon David Rowland (seen far proper subsequent to mannequin Kate Moss) attended the marriage of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank

However the MoS right this moment reveals their monetary relationship goes a lot deeper. Our investigation exposes how the Duke used his place as Britain’s commerce envoy to push the enterprise pursuits of Mr Rowland and his household – particularly their personal financial institution based mostly within the tax haven of Luxembourg.

Prince Andrew’s public position because the UK’s roving commerce ambassador between 2001 and 2011 was a high-profile place wherein he was supposed to advertise British enterprise and appeal to inward funding on taxpayer-funded journeys abroad. However Mr Rowland’s international financial institution, which manages the wealth of a few of the world’s super-rich, would hardly qualify as the kind of enterprise that Andrew was imagined to champion.

Emails seen by this newspaper present that on one official taxpayer-funded journey to China, Andrew was accompanied by Jonathan Rowland, David’s 44-year-old son and enterprise lieutenant, and helped him goal potential new rich shoppers.

Pictured: Prince Andrew with Jonathan Rowland at Banque Havilland’s launch

Six months earlier, Andrew had opened the Rowlands’ new enterprise – named Banque Havilland – to nice fanfare. It had beforehand been the Luxembourg department of Kaupthing, an Icelandic financial institution that collapsed amid the worldwide monetary disaster, however was rescued by the Rowland household and renamed after David’s palatial dwelling in Guernsey.

Its first annual report declared that it could supply discreet personal banking for ‘extremely excessive internet price’ prospects and boasted an image of Andrew standing alongside David Rowland, its honorary president, and Jonathan, its chief govt.

The Rowlands needed their new financial institution to ‘appeal to a extra prosperous consumer base’ and broaden its attain ‘to new areas’. The leaked emails present that an early goal was the financial powerhouse of China.

Fortuitously, their good pal Prince Andrew, whose Royal standing might impress potential shoppers and open doorways, was resulting from go to China on an official taxpayer-funded commerce envoy mission in March 2010.

The official cause for Andrew’s three-day journey was to witness the signing of a $35 billion gasoline deal between BG Group, the British multinational oil and gasoline firm, and the China Nationwide Abroad Oil Company, an enormous state-owned oil agency.

Britain was nonetheless reeling from the 2008 monetary crash and boosting commerce with booming international locations like China was very important.

With each his daughters at college, Andrew, who had been commerce envoy for greater than eight years, had loads of time on his fingers to assist.

The Mail on Sunday has beforehand revealed how the financier (pictured arriving at Princess Eugenie’s wedding ceremony) helped repay the Duchess of York’s huge money owed

Emails present that on one official taxpayer-funded journey to China, Andrew (pictured) was accompanied by Jonathan Rowland, David’s 44-year-old son

Senior Authorities officers drew up a packed schedule of conferences with a few of China’s high powerbrokers. However whereas they had been placing the ending touches to the essential commerce mission, Amanda Thirsk, Andrew’s then deputy personal secretary, was busy organising Jonathan Rowland’s involvement within the journey.

The e-mail chain exhibits how Ms Thirsk despatched the Duke his itinerary on March 10 – a fortnight earlier than the go to. Terribly, the subsequent day Andrew forwarded the schedule to Jonathan Rowland and requested which occasions he wished to attend.

‘That is my define programme for China,’ he mentioned. ‘Which occasions do it’s worthwhile to be at? Are you able to let Amanda know as we might simply have to alert them to you coming.’

Mr Rowland replied that he would ‘like to come back to all the things you let me come to’.

‘If it [is] not related for our enterprise I’ll sit quietly and if it isn’t potential I cannot be a part of. Go away it to you guys to determine,’ he added.

However, in actual fact, that wasn’t sufficient for the Rowlands.

In one other jaw-dropping message, Jonathan Rowland emailed Ms Thirsk with a proposal. He requested for a gathering with a serious Chinese language firm to be inserted into Andrew’s schedule – and advised that it might show worthwhile for the Duke.

‘I needed to ask Louis Cheung CEO of Ping An insurance coverage to satisfy with myself and the Duke for an hour on the journey.

‘Is their [sic] a slot obtainable as he’ll journey from Shenzhen. Ping An is the most important insurance coverage firm in China and associate for all of us going ahead.’

Though not a family title within the UK, Ping An is now the world’s largest insurance coverage firm, in line with Forbes, the American enterprise journal, price an estimated £171 billion.

It’s the world’s seventh greatest public firm – one place behind US tech large Apple – and its headquarters within the metropolis of Shenzhen is housed on this planet’s fourth highest skyscraper, 961ft taller than The Shard in London.

Pictured: E mail exchanges between Andrew, his aide Amanda Thirsk and Jonathan Rowland

Mr Rowland’s request for a Royal viewers with Ping An’s boss did not come out of the blue. The leaked emails reveal that six weeks earlier, Jonathan Rowland had not solely met Louis Cheung however had begun to put the groundwork for a gathering with Prince Andrew.

They met at an occasion in Shenzhen on February eight, 2010, and Mr Rowland adopted up their encounter with an e mail wherein he ambitiously pitched for enterprise.

‘We just lately acquired a Financial institution in Luxembourg and renamed it Banque Havilland SA. Our focus is on personal banking and wealth administration with a world footprint and consumer base,’ he wrote, attaching to the e-mail a ‘easy presentation’ concerning the financial institution.

‘I wish to discover methods of working with Ping An sooner or later and wish to invite you to satisfy with me and HRH Prince Andrew in Beijing in March.

‘The Rowland household are the unique adviser to HRH and all his enterprise pursuits and investments. Ping An might probably be a associate for our Personal Banking actions in China and we might simply discover a method to help you with operations or transactions within the Center East and Europe.’

The e-mail, which was not copied to Prince Andrew, additionally highlighted how the financial institution had a ‘vital three way partnership’ in Abu Dhabi and ‘relationships with all of the Royal Households within the area for over 20 years’.

Again in London, Amanda Thirsk agreed to make time for a gathering between Mr Rowland, the Duke and Mr Cheung – regardless of Andrew’s packed schedule.

‘That needs to be tremendous,’ she wrote to Jonathan Rowland on March 15. ‘Am anticipating a re-draft of the programme from Beijing tomorrow so offers you a slot based mostly on that.’ After being supplied a number of selections, Mr Rowland opted for lunch at a resort in Beijing on Wednesday, March 24.

Prince Andrew and Ms Thirsk flew out in a chartered jet from Farnborough airport on March 23, arriving in Beijing the next morning. Emails between Ms Thirsk and Mr Rowland present he was resulting from arrive within the metropolis the identical morning, presumably flying in with the Duke.

The Courtroom Round, Buckingham Palace’s official checklist of Royal engagements, exhibits that one of many Duke’s first appointments on March 24 was with Mr Cheung, 55, who had been Ping An’s president since 2003. Intriguingly, it omits to say whether or not Mr Rowland attended – however an e mail seen by the MoS suggests he did.

‘It was good to see you in Beijing with HRH 2 weeks in the past,’ Mr Rowland mentioned in a message to Mr Cheung on April 7.

‘He was very impressed by your perception into China and the remainder of the world and is eager to maintain contact with you thru me. Let’s keep up a correspondence and begin to plan the concepts we mentioned.’

The assembly was held in certainly one of Beijing’s two glitzy Ritz-Carlton inns, though the Courtroom Round doesn’t reveal which one. Both would have been an acceptable venue for the then fourth-in-line to the Throne: the five-star Ritz-Carlton, Beijing, boasts a £7,700-a-night presidential suite, whereas its sister resort within the metropolis’s Monetary District has an enormous luxurious spa and an 18th flooring lounge with spectacular views of town.

The emails expose a rare battle of curiosity wherein the Duke leveraged his place as this nation’s commerce envoy to behave as a facilitator for the Rowlands.

They’re additionally certain to lift questions over whether or not Prince Andrew stood to personally achieve financially from Banque Havilland’s expanded operations.

Helped by this key assembly, Mr Rowland was now on first-name phrases and in common e mail contact with certainly one of China’s strongest businessmen. By November 2011, the pair had struck up a pleasant sufficient relationship for Mr Rowland to ask Mr Cheung whether or not he was obtainable to ‘catch up for a beer?’ in Hong Kong. ‘No strain simply saying hiya,’ he added.

In the meantime, Andrew helped Mr Rowland make one other influential contact in the course of the journey.

In addition they met our ambassador – a privilege loved solely by a choose few 

The emails present how the banker was launched to Gao Xiqing, president, vice-chairman and chief funding officer of the China Funding Company (CIC) – an enormous sovereign wealth fund which was established in 2007 to handle China’s huge international alternate reserves. A large world investor, it has belongings of greater than $940 billion and owns ten per cent of Heathrow Airport.

In an e mail despatched later within the 12 months to Mr Xiqing, which was not copied to Prince Andrew, Jonathan Rowland seemed that his household supplied monetary recommendation to your entire British Royal Household. 

‘We met with HRH Prince Andrew earlier this 12 months,’ Mr Rowland reminded Mr Xiqing, in an e mail despatched in October 2010. ‘As it’s possible you’ll bear in mind our household act, in addition to for others, as monetary advisor to the British Royal Household, particularly Prince Andrew…

‘By means of our financial institution in Luxembourg we’re very energetic in the intervening time in personal banking for some Chinese language nationals and companies.’

The Courtroom Round exhibits that the Duke of York met Mr Xiqing in Beijing on the morning of March 25. An e mail seen by this paper additionally exhibits that Ms Thirsk advised Mr Rowland that the Duke was glad for him to affix 5 ‘non official occasions’, which included a ‘CIC Name’ on March 25.

Royal accounts present the associated fee to the taxpayer of Andrew’s constitution flight to China – after which on to the United Arab Emirates for a day, the place he attended the Dubai World Cup horse race – was £23,586. The journey price UK Commerce and Funding, a Authorities division, an additional £7,700.

However for Andrew’s mates, the Rowlands, the go to seems to have been price it – opening doorways and serving to them forge probably vital enterprise relationships.

Seven months later, in October 2010, Jonathan Rowland, this time accompanied by his father, returned to China. A flurry of emails within the days earlier than the journey confirmed how Jonathan organized a brand new spherical of conferences with a few of the influential contacts he had met in March.

A leaked schedule of their go to reveals that the pair secured dinner with Ping An’s boss Louis Cheung in Shenzhen and lunch with the ‘Chairman of CIC’ in Beijing. In addition they landed a gathering with Sebastian Wooden, Britain’s ambassador to China, in his grand residence in Beijing – a privilege loved by solely a choose few British businessmen visiting town.

‘Very glad to get collectively,’ Mr Wooden wrote to Jonathan Rowland. ‘Would you and your father like to come back over [to] the Residence for espresso or tea?’

However there was additionally one other social engagement to rearrange. On the afternoon of October 17, Prince Andrew arrived in Hong Kong to kick off one other commerce envoy journey to the Far East – simply seven months after his final. Maybe understandably after a draining 12-hour flight, the Courtroom Round didn’t checklist any engagements for the Duke on the day he arrived.

The leaked emails do, nonetheless, reveal that the Duke had one appointment scheduled that evening: dinner with David and Jonathan Rowland.

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