The Duke of York has reached a confidential settlement with a Turkish millionairess after accepting huge sums of her money from an alleged fraudster, The Telegraph can reveal.
Prince Andrew, 63, his ex-wife the Duchess of York, 64, and their daughters, received a series of payments totalling some £1.4 million from Selman Turk, a former Goldman Sachs banker accused of stealing £40 million from Nebahat Evyap Isbilen.
The Yorks were dragged into a complex legal case after Mrs Isbilen, 77, sued Mr Turk and various offshore companies over the missing money and issued contempt proceedings over an alleged breach of a court order.
The High Court court heard on Tuesday that the Duke and Duchess, who still live together, had reached a settlement with Mrs Isbilen.
Although the terms were not disclosed, any financial transfer is likely to have been considered repayment for the large amount of cash that had found its way into their bank accounts.
Most of the money was paid via a UK-based company called Alphabet Capital.
Mr Turk, 37, argued that an agreed statement of fact, signed by the Yorks and Mrs Isbilen, which included references to the various payments but was not read out in court, was “plainly self-serving” and “presumably prepared as a quid pro quo” for settling Mrs Isbilen’s claim against the Yorks and others.
James Counsell KC, representing Mr Turk in the contempt case, said his client had not been privy to the negotiations leading to the settlement.
“He has no independent knowledge of the statement,” he said. “He has been given no opportunity to cross-examine the parties to the settlement.”
Mrs Isbilen hired Mr Turk to help transfer her assets out of Turkey, where her husband, a wealthy MP, is a political prisoner.
She has alleged that he tricked her into making one payment of £750,000 to the Duke, after claiming Prince Andrew had helped to secure her a passport.
The money was transferred just nine days after Mr Turk won an award for his digital bank business idea from Pitch@Palace, the Duke’s Dragons’ Den-style initiative, at St James’s Palace.
Asked if there was any connection between the payment and his victory at the ceremony, he told the judge Sir Anthony Mann: “No.”
He added: “I just helped arrange the payment. It was a gift to the Duke of York for his daughter’s wedding.”
He told the court that Mrs Isbilen had wanted to make the transfer.
Series of payments made to Duke and family
Prince Andrew repaid the sum in March 2021 after Mrs Isbilen’s solicitors wrote to him about his dealings with Mr Turk, but has offered no explanation as to what he thought it was for.
A series of further payments were made to the Duke and his family through Alphabet Capital.
The court has previously heard that Alphabet, owned and operated by businessman Adrian Gleave, 52, who made his name running caravan parks, is also a signatory on the agreed statement of fact with the Yorks and Mrs Isbilen.
The York payments included unexplained instalments adding up to £350,000 to the Duke, £225,000 to the Duchess and £25,000 to Princess Eugenie.
The payments to the Duchess began in August 2019, just three months before the Pitch@Palace event, and were said to relate to her work as a brand ambassador for solar power firm, Pegasus Group Holdings, with which Mr Turk has no obvious connection.
Mr Turk told the court that the Duchess was due to be paid £25,000 a month for 12 months.
“The Duchess asked me if I can give her the money and she will pay it back to me in instalments,” he said.
However, bank statements suggest that in the event, the Duchess was paid, via Alphabet, in a series of £25,000 and £10,000 instalments over several months, an arrangement that was described in court as “extremely odd”.
The Duke was introduced to Mr Turk in May or June 2019 by Tarek Kaituni, a convicted Libyan gun smuggler who had links to Colonel Gaddafi.
The three men are said to have met again at a dinner with potential investors at Mr Turk’s home in December 2019. Two months later, Mr Turk and Kaituni were pictured together at Frogmore House in Windsor Great Park.
The court heard that the Duke had received a series of payments from Alphabet in December 2019, including one for £50,000 labelled “TK wed”, which Dan McCourt Fritz KC, for Mrs Isbilen, suggested was proof of Kaituni’s involvement.
The barrister alleged that invoices created by Alphabet had been a “sham” to disguise the fact that Mr Turk had stolen money from Mrs Isbilen and then transferred it to the Duke.
The reason for the payments was baffling, he said.
“Are you able to shed any light on why the Duke was receiving so much money from Alphabet?” he asked Mr Turk.
“I suggest it was a scheme between you and Mr Kaituni.”
Mr McCourt Fritz told the judge: “We do not know why they were paying the Duke money.
“He was currying favour with the Duchess and the inference is that he was currying favour with the Duke.”
Similarly, Mr Turk could not explain why he had given the Duchess an interest-free loan, agreeing that it was simply “out of the goodness of his heart.”
He claimed he had met her up to 30 times by October 2019 but an email she sent on the 13th of that month, introducing herself as “Sarah, a friend of Tarek” and spelling his name incorrectly, indicated they had not met at all, the court heard.
Princess Eugenie said last year that she did not know Mr Turk or Mrs Isbilen and that the £25,000 cash transferred to her was a gift from “a longstanding family friend to assist with the cost of a surprise party for my mother”.
It is thought that the “family friend” was Kaituni, who had attended her October 2018 wedding and once gave Princess Beatrice an £18,000 gold and diamond necklace after he was invited by Andrew to her 21st birthday party in Spain.
Neither the Duke nor the Duchess are accused of wrongdoing.
A source close to the Duchess said she was “completely unaware” of the allegations made against Mr Turk when she entered into an agreement with him, “sympathised” with Mrs Isbilen and was pleased things had been “amicably resolved” with her.
Similarly, neither Princess Beatrice nor Princess Eugenie are believed to have had any knowledge of their parents’ dealings with Mr Turk, nor knowingly corresponded with him in any way.
Mr Turk denies dishonestly “misappropriating” the money. He said Mrs Isbilen decided to give Prince Andrew the money “on her own initiative” and denies all allegations made against him.
The case continues.