United Kingdom

Queen's cousin in Kremlin cash-for-access storm

Fictitious executives were told Prince Michael of Kent could be hired to endorse their company to Vladimir Putin's inner circle, a bombshell report claims.   

The Queen's cousin, 78, was filmed in a Zoom meeting where undercover reporters posing as clients from South Korea were told he could be hired for £10,000 a day to make 'confidential' representations in Moscow.    

Journalists from Channel 4 Dispatches and The Sunday Times were investigating claims that Prince Michael and his close friend the Marquess of Reading were selling their links to the Russian regime.    

Prince Michael said he would be 'very excited' to work with the fictitious 'House of Haedong' - which alleged it wanted to further its business in Russia by making links with Putin's inner circle. 

Prince Michael, a grandson of King George V, allegedly said he would give the 'House of Haedong' his endorsement in the Kremlin for a $200,000 fee.

He added his relationship with the state could 'bring some benefit' to the firm, billed as 'new boutique fund that invests in the most regal of assets: gold'. 

The royal's secretary allegedly earlier told the two undercover reporters that Prince Michael could make introductions to people high up in the Russian state.  

Fictitious executives were told Prince Michael of Kent (left) could be hired to endorse their company to Vladimir Putin's inner circle, a bombshell report claims

She said: 'We can certainly help in that sense. Even if he doesn't have direct contact to the person that you want, there is a way in. There is always a way in.'   

There are few rules that dictate how a royal can earn private income, and Prince Michael does not receive any money from the civil list. 

However, research conducted for Dispatches found that two-thirds of Britons don't believe royals should be able to personally profit from their status.    

Prince Michael allegedly drew attention to the fact Putin had bestowed upon him the Order of Friendship in his meeting with the 'House of Haedong'.  

According to the Sunday Times, the Marquess of Reading remained in the call with the apparent South Korean executives after the royal left the Zoom. 

Outlining the type of service the pair could offer in Russia, Lord Reading allegedly claimed that Michael acted as 'Her Majesty's unofficial ambassador to Russia' and could meet with the Russian leader.  

The cost of the 'confidential' service was given as £50,000 for a four or five-day trip to Russia, the Times reported.

Prince Michael said he would be 'very excited' to work with the fictitious 'House of Haedong' - which alleged it wanted to further its business in Russia by making links with Putin's inner circle

Lord Reading said: 'Clearly Prince Michael is very interested in all that you have to say regarding Russia… Well, if you want to get into Russia right, you have to go through the Putinistas. 

'And the best way of getting through the Putinistas, are through himself, through Putin himself. Putin, exactly. 

'I mean, I can show you an album of a picture of me with various Putinistas, about six or seven of them... and he, he has a whole lot more erm of these, of these instances, where he is seen with Putin and he will be discussing a number of different subjects, right. 

'But if he is representing the House of Haedong, he could mention that to Putin and Putin would find the right person, erm who is interested in South Korea or interested in gold. It just opens the door, you know, which is so helpful.' 

He concluded that the arrangement would be 'slightly discreet', adding: 'We wouldn't want the world to know that he is seeing Putin purely for business reasons, if you follow me.' 

Asked if Prince Michael has done this before, he said: 'Yeah. I mean, he's not… I mean, he's he's done… He's been able to do that. But he doesn't broadcast it.' 

Lord Reading also said the tension between Britain and Russia has not changed Prince Michael's relationship with the Kremlin.

He said: 'No, it hasn't. It hasn't affected his relationship with Prince Michael…. He is just generally regarded as Her Majesty's erm, unofficial Ambassador to Russia'.

Marina Litvinenko, the widow of the murdered Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, told the Channel 4 she was concerned about claims Prince Michael was selling access to Putin's regime:

She said: 'He has to be aware that his relationship is not a simple business deal. And opening a door for business and directly with Vladimir Putin is a very toxic relationship.'

In a statement, Prince Michael said: 'Prince Michael receives no public funding and earns his own living through a consultancy company that he has run for over 40 years. Prince Michael has no special relationship with President Putin. 

'They last met in June 2003 and Prince Michael has had no contact with him or his office since then. 

'Lord Reading is a good friend, who in trying to help, made suggestions which Prince Michael would not have wanted, or been able, to fulfil.'   

Lord Reading said: 'I thought the approach from the House of Haedong was genuine and I was only trying to facilitate an introduction to my friend Prince Michael.

'I made a mistake and over-promised and for that, I am truly regretful. I wasn't at my peak as I was recovering from a kidney transplant.

'For the record, the Sambo event which was eight years ago was my event and Prince Michael was simply my guest along with many other people.' 

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