The Conservative Party chairman has been accused of making money from organising meetings between wealthy businessmen and the Prince of Wales – his uncle.
Ben Elliot, the Duchess of Cornwall’s nephew, is said to have introduced clients of his concierge company Quintessentially to the future king – but only after they spent tens of thousands of pounds on a membership scheme, according to a report in The Sunday Times.
One of those clients, who is a major Tory donor, told the newspaper he paid an annual fee of £15,000 to be an elite member of Mr Elliot’s luxury business for several years.
Mohamed Amersi, 61, a telecoms millionaire, then claimed that in 2013, Quintessentially arranged for him to fly to meet Prince Charles over “an intimate dinner” at Dumfries House in Scotland.
Mr Amersi, who as a result of the meeting became a trustee of one of Charles’ charities, has since donated more than £1.2m to causes supported by the prince.
Leaked emails reportedly show Mr Elliot congratulated Mr Amersi on his first donation by writing: “Well done.”
The events took place before Mr Elliot became Tory chairman, in 2019.
Mr Amersi told The Sunday Times that without “somebody like [Mr Elliot], it’s not possible, it’s not easy” to get access to senior figures such as Charles.
Asked if Mr Elliot was operating a pay-to-play scheme, the businessman replied: “You call it pay-to-play, I call it access capitalism. It’s the same point. You get access, you get invitations, you get privileged relationships if you are part of the set-up, and where you are financially making a contribution to be a part of that set up. Absolutely.”
His allegations are supported by an anonymous whistleblower with “close knowledge of Quintessentially’s operations”, according to the newspaper.
Mr Amersi, who has donated large sums to the Tories, including £10,000 each to Boris Johnson and Michael Gove during the 2019 Conservative leadership election, said he would never have met Charles without paying for the top tier membership of Mr Elliot’s business.
Clarence House declined to comment to The Independent, while the Conservative Party did not respond to a request.
A spokesperson for Mr Elliot told The Sunday Times: “Mr Elliot does not raise money from Quintessentially members in his role as Conservative Party chairman. Mr Elliot has helped raise more than £13m for charities through the Quintessentially Foundation, which has supported more than 50 charities. He is proud of this work. He has also worked to support many other charities and good causes across the UK.”
The introduction of Mr Amersi to the Prince of Wales “was entirely about helping to raise money for charity”, the spokesperson said.
Earlier this year, leaked emails relating to Mr Johnson’s lucrative flat refurbishment showed that Mr Elliot was copied into crucial emails discussing ways party donations could be used for the redecorations.
It was later revealed – in a complex payment plan – that the estimated £58,000 renovation was initially paid for by the government and the Conservative Party before Mr Johnson eventually met the costs himself.