A Saudi businessman who was offered help to secure a knighthood and British citizenship in exchange for donations to Prince Charles’s charities was awarded the Freedom of the City of London.
Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, who was told by Michael Fawcett, a trusted ally of Charles, that the Prince’s Foundation would be ‘happy and willing’ to use its influence to help him, became a Freeman of the City in 2013.
Seen as an honorary title awarded to those who have lived and worked in London, Freedom of the City has also been given to Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, JK Rowling and Dame Vera Lynn.
It emerged last week that Russian banker Dmitry Leus, whose offer to donate to the Prince’s charities was rebuffed, was offered the same honour by William Bortrick, a society fixer and a Freeman himself.
As well as being a Freeman, Dr Bin Mahfouz is the holder of the Lordship and Barony of Abernethy in Scotland. A decade ago, the Armorial Register granted him his own family arms, which were red to reflect the Saudi national flag and included scales because of his ‘legal training’. He was also given an honorary CBE in 2016.
Dr Bin Mahfouz has given generously to several Oxbridge colleges and was made the inaugural Bredon fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge, in July 2013, after what the college described as a ‘munificent donation’. Wolfson also offers a £10,000 scholarship in his name to support PhD students.
After making donations to Pembroke College, Oxford, which resulted in the Mahfouz Building and Garden, he was elected a fellow of the college in 2013 ‘as a record of his generosity’.
He has also ‘generously funded’ the annual Mahfouz Forum held at Pembroke College. In addition, Dr Bin Mahfouz served as vice president of the British Forces Foundation, whose patron is Prince Charles.
Another donor to Charles’s charity, Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel, has also received an honorary university title.
The Mail on Sunday revealed last week how Charles awarded an honorary knighthood to Mr Jameel during an official trip to the Middle East. The Prince also presented an Honorary Doctorate of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David to Mr Jameel in 2016 ‘in recognition of his outstanding service and international leadership in promoting intercultural understanding between Western and Middle Eastern traditions’.
Another of Charles’s donors, Timur Kuanyshev, also holds several honorary positions. The Kazakh oil magnate and his wife Alfiya are prominent supporters of the Prince’s Foundation with a craft and skills centre named in their honour, and Mr Kuanyshev is also an honorary director of the Royal Opera House.
Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, a former director general of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency, who between September 2004 and October 2005 served as a director of the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Ulster in 2010 ‘for his services to diplomatic and international relations’.
In 2002, the 76-year-old was named in a multi-billion-pound lawsuit by families of 9/11 victims which alleged he was among a group of Saudi princes who may have funded terrorists involved in the attack. He has repeatedly denied the claims and described Al Qaeda as ‘an evil cult’.
Dr Bin Mahfouz has previously said he had ‘not had personal or direct communication to either request, influence or make any arrangements regarding citizenship or knighthood with Michael Fawcett, or anyone connected to HRH The Prince of Wales or The Prince’s Foundation’.
Insisting that Dr Bin Mahfouz did not expect any reward for his charitable donations, his spokesman added: ‘His Excellency had expressed an interest in applying for citizenship but in the end decided not to pursue that further.’