Saturday, Oct 25, 2014

‘Charles’ charity distances itself from Indian businessmen after Rolls-Royce scandal’

Press Trust of India | London | Posted: February 23, 2014 7:09 pm

Days after an Indian-origin father- son businessmen duo was arrested and questioned here on alleged bribery charges, a charity backed by Prince Charles seems to have distanced itself from a donation made by one of them.

Bhanu Choudhrie, whose family is one of the biggest donors to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrat party, bid 75,000 pounds at a charity auction for the privilege of playing against Boris Becker and Novak Djokovic at the Buckingham Palace, The Sunday Times reported.

However, now Bhanu will not be invited to visit Buckingham Palace to claim the celebrity tennis match prize, the report said.

A week after the fundraiser organised by the British Asian Trust (BAT) at Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Choudhrie, 35, and his father, Sudhir, 64, were arrested in dawn raids in London carried out by the Serious Fraud Office.

They were questioned for several hours over allegations of bribery and corruption involving defence contracts won by Rolls-Royce in Asia. They both have denied any wrongdoing.

The tennis prize was the most prestigious lot to go under the hammer at the high profile event attended by the Prince of Wales, who had announced the re-grouping of all his South Asian charitable efforts under the banner of the Prince’s Charities South Asia that evening.

The BAT is a charity set up at the Prince’s behest to raise money for causes in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Prince Charles and wife Camilla had visited some of the projects backed by the trust during an official trip to India last November.

A source close to the event was quoted by the daily as saying that no money had been received yet from Choudhrie and his gift would not be accepted.

It means the tycoon, whose business interests have included care homes, hospitals, luxury hotels and restaurants, will no longer be invited to Buckingham Palace.

Indian-born Choudhrie, who lives in a 9 million pounds flat in Belgravia, central London, is understood to have been invited by another BAT supporter.

After Choudhrie had secured the prize, Becker went over to his table to congratulate him.

A spokesman for the Choudhries said: “Both Bhanu and Sudhir deny any wrongdoing and full co-operation will be given to the authorities. As far as Bhanu is concerned, he is of course prepared to honour his donation.”

The BAT said: “We have never accepted any donation from Bhanu Choudhrie. We did not accept a donation in connection with our recent dinner at the V&A and neither have we accepted any other donation at any other time.”

This perceived snub is expected to put further pressure on Clegg to distance himself from the businessmen, who have given more than 1.5 million pounds to his party over the past decade.

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