Prince Andrew's Charity Broke Law With $450,000 Payment to Former Aide Who Quit After Jeffrey Epstein Interview

Prince Andrew's charity broke the law by paying $450,000 meant for good causes to his former aide, who was also a trustee.

The Prince Andrew Charitable Trust (PACT) is being wound up after the Duke of York retreated from public life in the wake of a car crash TV interview about his links to Jeffrey Epstein.

However, a watchdog had launched an investigation over payments to Andrew's former private secretary Amanda Thirsk, who left Buckingham Palace after reaching a settlement.

Britain's Charity Commission has now ruled the money broke charity law and ordered that it be returned.

Since PACT is closing anyway, the funds will be channeled to other causes that perform a similar function.

A statement reads: "The Charity Commission has identified, and resolved with the charity, financial concerns relating to the Prince Andrew Charitable Trust, after it found the charity breached charity law.

"As a result of this work, £355,297 [$452,659] has been returned to the charity, which will be redistributed towards causes in line with the charity's purposes."

The dramatic development comes as a US prosecutor attempts to force the prince to testify on his friendship with Epstein against the backdrop of claims he had sex with a 17-year-old trafficking victim.

Virginia Guiffre says the duke slept with her in New York, London and the Virgin Islands as she was flown around the world to serve the pedophile financier and his rich and powerful friends.

Prince Andrew Visits Crossrail in London
Prince Andrew, Duke of York leaves the headquarters of Crossrail at Canary Wharf on March 7, 2011 in London, England. Dan Kitwood/Getty

Prince Andrew's charity paid the money through subsidiaries set up as companies and recorded as payments for her role as a trustee.

However, the commission investigation found the organization did not have the legal right to pay her the money.

When Thirsk quit Buckingham Palace in the wake of Andrew's disastrous Epstein interview, she arrived at a settlement worth tens of thousands of pounds.

However, she was also paid the $450,000 by PACT for her role as a trustee dating back to 2015.

Friends of Andrew's ex-wife Sarah Ferguson told the Daily Telegraph in November she blamed Thirsk for the disastrous interview that ended his career as a public figure.

Helen Earner, director of operations at the Charity Commission, said: "Charity is special – with unpaid trusteeship a defining characteristic of the sector.

"By allowing the payment of a trustee via its subsidiaries the Prince Andrew Charitable Trust breached charity law and by insufficiently managing the resulting conflict of interest from this payment the trustees did not demonstrate the behavior expected of them.

"We're glad that concerns we identified are now resolved, after the charity acted quickly and efficiently to rectify these matters.

"The recovered funds will now go towards the causes intended, and we will continue to work with the trustees as they wind up the charity."

The prince's charity said in a statement: "In correspondence initiated by the current PACT Trustees through a serious incident report, the Charity Commission raised a concern about the remuneration paid to former Trustee, Amanda Thirsk, which the Commission considered to be an unauthorized Trustee benefit.

"Former trustees of PACT, who were in post at the time, made a decision regarding the remuneration of Amanda Thirsk, which inadvertently breached charity law.

"At no time before the Charity Commission's involvement were the current Trustees made aware of restrictions concerning the remuneration of Amanda Thirsk for her role as a director of the Trust's subsidiary companies.

"The current Trustees of PACT are grateful to the Charity Commission for its support in bringing this matter to a satisfactory conclusion with the payment of funds by HRH The Duke of York's office to the Trust."