When York’s Duke slowly walked up the aisle last year with his youngest daughter Eugenie, they passed a chubby-faced, grey-haired man standing in the front line of the church, just yards from the anxious groom.
David’ Spotty’ Rowland leaned forward from his role beside supermodel Kate Moss and grinned affectionately as the Princess joined Jack Brooksbank in the glorious chapel of St George.
Given his prominent place, the diminutive tycoon would have been noticed by few. Mr Rowland, 74, after all, is famously advertising-shy and has largely spent much of his professional life resisting being photographed in public. Nevertheless, this Royal Wedding was a big moment for him to come out of the shadows.
Andrew’s close friendship with Mr Rowland has already been controversial, a former tax exile for more than 30 years. Previously, The Mail on Sunday revealed how the secret financier helped pay off the massive debts of the Duchess of York–just months after he met the Queen and Prince Charles at Balmoral–and how he and Andrew covertly flew together to Libya.
Yet today’s MoS reveals how much further their financial relationship goes. Our investigation shows how the Duke used his role as the UK’s trade negotiator to drive Mr Rowland and his family’s business interests–particularly their private bank located in Luxembourg’s tax haven.
The public role of Prince Andrew as UK’s roving trade ambassador from 2001 to 2011 was a high-profile position in which he was supposed to promote British business and attract inward investment on taxpayer-funded trips overseas. But the foreign bank of Mr Rowland, which manages the wealth of some of the super-rich of the world, would hardly qualify as the type of business that Andrew was supposed to be championing. Emails viewed by this newspaper show that Andrew was accompanied by Jonathan Rowland, David’s 44-year-old son and business lieutenant, on one official taxpayer-funded trip to China, and helped him target potential new wealthy clients.
Andrew had opened the new venture of the Rowlands, named Banque Havilland, to great fanfare six months earlier. Originally, it was Kaupthing’s Luxembourg subsidiary, an Icelandic bank that failed in the wake of the international financial crisis, but was saved by the Rowland family and renamed after David’s palatial house in Guernsey. His first annual report stated that it would offer discreet private banking to’ ultra-high net worth ‘ customers and boasted a picture of Andrew standing next to his honorary president, David Rowland, and Jonathan, his chief executive.
The Rowlands wanted to’ attract a more affluent customer base’ from their new bank and expand their reach’ to new locations.’ The leaked emails suggest that China’s economic superpower was an early arget.
Luckily, their good friend Prince Andrew, whose royal status could attract potential customers and open doors, was due to visit China in March 2010 on an official business advisory trip funded by taxpayers. The official reason for Andrew’s three-day visit was to witness the signing of a $35 billion gas deal between BG Group, the British international oil and gas company, and the huge state-owned oil company, China National Overseas Oil Corporation.
Britain began to suffer from the financial crash of 2008 and it was important to improve ties with developing countries such as China.
Andrew, who had been a business envoy for more than eight years, had plenty of time on his hands to help with both his daughters at university.