Latvian police raided bank owned by ex-trustee of Kings' charity
EXCLUSIVE: Gun-toting Latvian police raided bank owned by convicted ex-trustee of King Charles’ charity who owned Blackpool FC
- Police raided Baltic International Bank, owned by Latvian Valery Belokon, in Riga
- Belokon donated to Prince’s Trust and was trustee of the charity for three years
A bank owned by a former trustee and donor to King Charles’ primary charity has been closed down and raided by a police task force armed with submachine guns who blasted a hole through the entrance door to the head office.
In a dawn raid in Riga, Latvia, the special forces broke into the Baltic International Bank, owned by Valery Belokon, a Latvian businessman who has a criminal record for money laundering.
Last month the Latvian bank admitted that its financial services have been suspended.
The Latvian regulator stated that the bank ‘has serious internal governance deficiencies, including the prevention of money laundering, terrorism and proliferation financing (funding the manufacture of nuclear and chemical weapons)’.
Valery Belokon (right) had his bank raided by Latvian Police. He donated to King Charles’ (left) Prince’s Trust and was a trustee of his primary charity for over three years and even set up joint ventures together
This dramatic development will be embarrassing to King Charles because Belokon donated to his Prince’s Trust, was a trustee of his primary charity for over three years and even set up joint ventures together.
Belokon, a former co-owner of Blackpool football club, was ‘a long-lasting friend’ of King Charles, according to an interview with ‘VIP-Lounge’ magazine in 2017.
The article stated that the Latvian banker was a trustee of the Prince’s Foundation for Built Environment and also ‘engaged in managing the Prince’s assets for three years’ (see photo of Belokon and Charles together)
In February 2010, Belokon announced to fanfare in Latvia that he and King Charles were going into business together.
He said his company Latvijas a/s Hercogiste which is Latvian for the Duchy of Latvia – an apparent nod to the Duchy of Cornwall – had joined the Prince’s Foundation to form a company called PF Urban Ltd ‘to provide services in ecological construction and urban planning based on the principles of sustainable development’.
The joint venture involved PF Urban Ltd taking over the work of projects run by the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment, a branch of the Prince’s Foundation. Some of the Prince’s staff even worked for PF Urban Ltd and a director was Douglas Connell, then chairman of the Prince’s Foundation.
PF Urban Ltd used to be called the Prince’s Foundation Enterprises Ltd and Belokon was a director between 20 September 2010 and 13 June 2013. He was also on the board of the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community between 12 January 2010 and 4 June 2013.
He listed his occupation as ‘Trustee to the Prince’s Foundation’.
Belokon’s relationship with King Charles is controversial because he was a director of these companies two years after criminal proceedings began against him. He was accused of a multi-million money laundering scheme that resulted in his Baltic International Bank being taken over by the central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan.
Belokon denied the charges but the Paris court of appeal delivered a damning judgment that he had bought the bank ‘in order…..to develop money laundering practices’.
The banker argued that the 20 year jail sentence and conviction was politically motivated, based on ‘ungrounded accusations’ and ‘fabricated evidence’. Belokon did not go to prison because he refused to attend the court hearings.
The Baltic International Bank, whose clients included the Russian Oligarch Boris Berezovsky, is now being investigated by Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market Commission which has suspended its operations in order to protect its customers and creditors.
The regulator stated the bank ‘operates at a loss, unable to restore profitability’ and ‘legal requirements are not met’
The private bank admitted that its services have been suspended and the decision was atlem ‘to prevent a bank run and protect the interests of the bank’s customers and creditors until further decisions will be made’
The Baltic International Bank (pictured), whose clients included the Russian Oligarch Boris Berezovsky, is now being investigated by Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market Commission which has suspended its operations in order to protect its customers and creditors
Valery Belokon and his brother own 59 percent of Baltic International Bank and modelled their bank on Charles Hoare and Co, the oldest private bank in the UK and founded in 1672.
But the Latvian version has been beset with problems and last March Belokon agreed to sell the Bank to Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, a senior member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family, for a mere $12 million. But the deal has not been ratified by the Latvian authorities.
Mr Belokon told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Baltic International Bank respects the FCMC’s decision, although BIB’s financial indicators, in our opinion, did not give a reason for suspending operations. We have always cooperated and will continue to do it with all supervisory authorities. Breaking into a bank by force is considered absolutely unjustified.’
The controversy over Belokon is another blow to the reputation of King Charles after the Mail on Sunday first revealed how another Latvian businessman with a criminal record, Dmitry Leus, donated £500,000 to the Prince Foundation in return for special access.
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