London: In an apparent embarrassment for the British Royal Family, Prince Andrew has got entangled in a controversy following claims that a Kazakh billionaire paid GBP 15 million for his mansion in a money-laundering scam.
Mukhtar Ablyazov, an exiled multi-millionaire, has alleged that the Duke of York`s former home, Sunninghill Park, was bought by Timur Kulibayev, the powerful son-in-law of the President of Kazakhstan, using cash from the sale of a state- run firm in the central Asian nation, `Daily Mail` reported.
And, Ablyazov now intends to call Prince Andrew, also Britain`s international trade ambassador, as a defence witness in his own corruption case to give evidence about the sale, the report said.
Sunninghill in Berkshire was Andrew`s marital home with the Duchess of York. It was sold to Kulibayev for GBP 15 million in 2007, despite having been on the market for GBP 3 million less, it said.
Ablyazov, 47, also a former government minister in Kazakhstan, claims to have documents which link the purchase with the sell-off of a GBP 110 million stake in a state-owned oil and gas company in Kazakhstan.
The 600-acre estate near Ascot was bought through a company registered in the British Virgin Islands and the prince has always denied any involvement in the deal, the report said.
However, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "There`s no connection between the Duke of York and these allegations. Therefore there`s no prospect of him being called as witness."