LONDON: The alleged fraudster who gifted Prince Andrew more than £1 million ($1.3 million) was introduced to him by a convicted Libyan gun smuggler.
The UK’s Telegraph newspaper disclosed that the Duke of York was introduced to Selman Turk by Libyan Tarek Kaituni in 2019.
After their summer meet, they quickly established a friendship, with the duke attending dinners at Turk’s London home.
Kaituni had a longer link with Prince Andrew, which he boasted about to other connections. He had reportedly organized meetings between the duke and the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and attended the wedding of the duke’s daughter, Princess Eugenie, in 2018.
Turk quickly used his introduction to the duke to organize payments to him and his family, including £225,000 to his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson and £25,000 to Princess Eugenie.
It has been recently alleged that Turk amassed his wealth through fraudulent means, stealing the cash from Nebahat Evyap Isbilen, a 77-year-old Turkish millionairess, who passed $87 million to Turk, trusting him to move it out of Turkey as she fled political persecution.
Turk and Kaituni held meetings with Prince Andrew in London on at least two occasions after the former was introduced to the duke.
One of these meetings included a dinner hosted at Turk’s apartment in South Kensington, London, on Dec. 5, 2019, where the prince was introduced to investors.
Turk shared photos with friends of him and Kaituni being entertained in what royal experts determine to be Frogmore House, the royal residence in Windsor Great Park, in February 2020.
Prince Andrew’s links with Kaituni, who has US citizenship, extend to 2005. Kaituni was convicted after attempting to smuggle a machine gun from Holland to France that same year.
Four years later, the Libyan gifted Princess Beatrice an £18,000 necklace at her 21st birthday party in Spain in August 2009, months before the duke allegedly warmed up a British company on his behalf.
Prince Andrew and Turk have been pictured together in public just once: At the Pitch@Palace event in November 2019, where Turk was awarded a People’s Choice award for his “digital bank” Heyman AI.
Soon after this event, Isbilen paid £750,000 directly to the duke. It is understood that she needed to send this “gift” to secure her passport.
The Telegraph reported that Isbilen was told by Turk that Prince Andrew would intervene in the case of her husband, a politician imprisoned in Turkey. He was allegedly arrested in 2016 after the failed coup to remove President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
But a transcript of phone calls obtained by the Telegraph unveils how Turk told an official from Isbilen’s private bank Hampden & Co. on Nov. 14, 2019, that the payment was a gift for Princess Beatrice’s wedding.
When banking director Stephen Buckland asked why the sum was so large, Turk said: “Wedding — so basically wedding — so for the cost of the wedding.” He later said: “Wedding gift, so basically it’s a gift to the bride.”
Buckland later asked Prince Andrew’s legal adviser Amanda Thirsk to confirm if the payment was a gift for the cost of the wedding or a gift to Princess Beatrice.
She replied: “I mean, I’m not sure it makes much difference, does it? I think it’s a gift for the wedding. What she and her family decide to do with it is really to do with them, isn’t it?”
Isbilen has now suggested that the £750,000 transfer could be connected to the award Turk won at the Pitch@Palace event.
In court documents, Ibsilen has said she “suspects that the payment was made for some purpose connected with the banking business.”
A spokeswoman for the duke of York told the Telegraph: “We will not be commenting on an ongoing legal matter.” Turk did not respond to the Telegraph’s requests for comment.