Businessman accused of deceit attended palace event hosted by Prince Andrew, judge hears

A Turkish businessman accused of “deceit” in a High Court with an elderly woman attended a dispute charity event hosted by Prince Andrew at St James’s Palace, a court has been told.

Selman Turk had “sought to promote his UK banking business” at the event in November 2019, a solicitor representing Turkish millionaire Nebahat Isbilen said in a written affidavit.

The Duke of York, his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson and their daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie, have all been named in the affidavit filed recently by Jonathan Tickner, head of fraud and commercial disputes at law firm Peters & Peters.

There are no allegations of wrongdoing against Andrew, Sarah or their daughters.

Andrew was allegedly paid £750,000 for “assistance” provided “in relation” to Mrs Isbilen’s passport, the judge was told earlier.

Deputy High Court judge David Halpern also mentioned Andrew and Sarah in a recent preliminary ruling on the dispute. He heard that the duke had returned the money.

During the preliminary ruling, the judge said that he had been told “substantial sums” were paid to the pair.

But a 58-page affidavit filed by Mr Tickner on behalf of Mrs Isbilen, within which Price Andrew’s name appears more than a dozen times, disclosed more details.

Mr Tickner also mentioned Sarah, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie within the document filed with the High Court on 4 March.

Judge Halpern was told that Mrs Isbilen had needed help moving assets out of Turkey after her husband became a political prisoner and Mr Turk had agreed to help. She alleges that he “breached fiduciary obligations he owed to her de ella” and has advanced “claims in deceit”.

Mr Turk is fighting the case.

Mrs Isbilen’s lawyers also told the judge that “total sums” that were “misappropriated” amounted to 50 million US dollars (£38 million).

Judge Halpern said in the preliminary ruling that Mr Turk had provided explanations for approximately two-thirds of “these sums”, but “no explanation at all” had been given for the remaining third.

In an earlier document, Mr Tickner told the judge that evidence showed “money was used for purposes unconnected with Mrs Isbilen, eg, substantial sums were paid to Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and to Sarah, Duchess of York”.

But the recent affidavit said Mrs Isbilen “relied on a payment of £750,000 to the personal account of Prince Andrew, which Mr Turk instructed to be made from Mrs Isbilen’s account with Hampden Bank, as a specific instance of dishonest behavior by Mr Turk”.

“Mrs Isbilen’s evidence is that she was told the payment was to be made in connection with obtaining immigration documents,” Mr Tickner added.

“Mr Turk sent emails to an employee of Hampden Bank representing (it is alleged falsely) that the payment was by way of a wedding present for HRH Princess Beatrice of York. Mrs Isilen has since obtained transcripts prepared by Hampden Bank of telephone conversations between Mr Turk, Hampden Bank and Prince Andrew’s private office, in which this representation was repeated.

“In fact, Mr Turk appeared at a charity event hosted by Prince Andrew at St James’s Palace on 5 November 2019, at which he sought to promote his UK banking business. Mrs Isbilen suspects that the payment was made for some purpose connected with the banking business.”

Mr Tickner added: “Peters & Peters wrote to Prince Andrew in March 2021, requesting an account of his dealings with Mr Turk. Prince Andrew declined to provide any such account but … repaid Mrs Isbilen the sum of £750,000.”

The affidavit also claims that Mrs Isbilen had asked for bank records relating to an account in the name of a company called Alphabet Capital Limited to be disclosed.

Mr Tickner said a “pattern of payments” was “consistent with a calculated attempt to facilitate transfers to Prince Andrew and to mask the source of funds”.

He said there were “strong grounds for inferring that the payments from the Alphabet account to Prince Andrew were made at Mr Turk’s direction”.

“Prior to the Alphabet application, Peters & Peters were not aware of any connection between Mr Turk and Sarah, Duchess of York.”

Bank records for Mr Turk’s accounts showed that the equivalent to around £19,200 was transferred to him from a Las Vegas company called Pegasus Group Holdings LLC, Mr Tickner said.

He added: “Online media reports suggest that Sarah, Duchess of York has acted as a brand ambassador for Pegasus Group Holdings.

“It appears, therefore, that there is a connection between Sarah, Duchess of York and Mr Turk (although the reason for his receiving an apparent payment on account of her fees is difficult to explain).

“At least £225,000 was transferred to an account in the name of ‘DUCHESS OF YORK’ out of the Alphabet account… in regular installations and in most cases under the reference ‘PEG001’. This reference may be related to Pegasus Group Holdings.

He continued: “As with the payments to Prince Andrew, there are accordingly strong grounds for inferring that these payments were made at Mr Turk’s direction.”

Mr Tickner also made reference to a £15,000 “birthday gift” payment to “Eugenie York”.

He said: “Prior to the Alphabet application, Peters & Peters were not aware of any connection between Mr Turk and HRH Princess Eugenie.

“The bank records … for Mr Turk’s account show that, on October 10 2019, Mr Turk made a payment of £15,066.05 to ‘Eugenie York’ under the payment reference ‘Birthday gift.”’

Mr Tickner said there was a “basis” for inferring that “this payment was made to HRH Princess Eugenie”.

He added: “For similar reasons to Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York, there are strong grounds for inferring that this further payment was made at Mr Turk’s direction.”

He indicated that Mr Turk was arguing that the “transfers to the Duke of York were not made on a fraudulent basis”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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