Prince Andrew’s murky £15m sale of royal house to Kazakh despot’s son-in-law should face ‘dirty money’ probe, says MPs

PRINCE Andrew is facing further trouble as MPs have called for a probe over the sale of his house and his links to Kazakhstan’s ruling elite.

The Duke of York is already in hot water as he faces a rape lawsuit for allegedly abusing a 17-year-old girl and has had his military titles and royal patronages stripped from him.

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Nicknamed ‘SouthYork’, the house was mockingly compared to a giant TescoCredit: Rex Features
Prince Andrew with Kazakh socialite Goga Ashkenazi

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Prince Andrew with Kazakh socialite Goga AshkenaziCredit: Rex Features

And now senior MPs have called for a probe for his financial links to the former Soviet state as the ruling regime cracks down on protesters with help from Vladimir Putin.

The Duke of York sold his and Sarah Ferguson’s former six bedroom love nest Sunninghill Park in 2007 for £15m to billionaire oligarch Timur Kulibayev, son-in-law of the former Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Andrew is known to have been pals and even gone goose hunting with Nazarbayev.

The price paid for the garish property was £3million over the asking price – raising may eyebrows.

MPs said they fear the sale could be an example of “dirty” Kazakh money from the ruthless regime finding its way into Britain while Andrew was working as a trade envoy for the UK.

No wrongdoing over the sale has ever been established – and the Palace has previously insisted there were “no side deals” and the sale was a “straight commercial transaction”.

Nicknamed SouthYork, over its supposed similarities to the garish Texas ranch Southfork in 1980s TV show Dallas, the house was mocked from the start with some comparing it to a giant Tesco supermarket.

It was built as a home for Prince Andrew and then-wife Fergie, but after the couple divorced in 1996, the house was largely unoccupied for the next 10 years.

And the Sunninghill sale to Kulibayev was allegedly facilitated through their mutual friend, and mother of Timur’s son, the billionaire socialite Goga Ashkenazi.

The glamorous English-educated Kazakh socialite and businesswoman, reportedly enchanted the embattled Duke from the moment they met at a 2001 New Year’s Eve party in Phuket, Thailand.

Andrew is said to have been “besotted” with the then-20-year-old Goga – but she has always insisted they were just friends.

Goga has been one of Andrew’s most loyal allies in recent years, insisting there was nothing improper in the Sunninghill sale.

Speaking to The Sun Online, Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge said the NCA should open a case into all UK property bought by Kazakhstan’s ruling elite, believed to be worth more than half a billion pounds.

She said: “In the last few years, dirty money has infected our entire politics.

“Prince Andrew is one of too many people in the public sphere who kleptocrats try to woo for help in this country.”

Dame Margaret added: “I certainly think that Britain is helping Kazakhstan’s elite launder money out of the country.

“The UK has become the destination of choice for the world’s money laundering. You won’t build Britain’s prosperity off the back of dirty money.”

The veteran MP for Barking said she has been campaigning for a public register of foreign-owned interests since 2015, but despite getting the agreement of then-Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, the legislation has since gone nowhere.

While Chris Bryant, Labour MP for Rhondda who sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee, told The Sun Online: “Of course it should be investigated. I’ve been saying so ever since it came to light.

“Nobody is above the law.

“And the insidious way dodgy foreign oligarchs have laundered their money and peddled influence in the UK is now a matter of national security.”

The Grand Old Duke of Sleaze

Norman Baker former Lib Dem minister

Former Lib Dem MP and minister Norman Baker, who investigated Prince Andrew’s business connections in his 2019 book ‘… And What Do You Do? What The Royal Family Don’t Want You To Know’, branded Andrew the “Grand Old Duke of Sleaze”.

He also called for an investigation into the sale of Sunninghill, and said questions need to be asked about its over-the-odds selling price.

“Why would someone buy that ghastly place, which looked like a Tesco supermarket, and especially pay £3m more than the asking price for it?” he said to The Sun Online.

“And then, why try and hide that sale? It’s clear that the Duke was receiving a backhander, a £3m bribe behind the backdoor.”

Sunninghill was placed on the market in 2001, but it was finally sold six years later to an offshore trust based in the British Virgin Islands for a whopping £15m, despite going on the market for just £12m and requiring extensive refurbishment.

Later, the owner was revealed to be Timur Kulibayev, husband of Dinara Nursultanovna, the daughter of long-term Vladimir Putin ally and despot Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The ex-dictator, who remained close to the seat of power in his country until this month’s protests forced him to flee, used torture and a brutal police force to crush any dissent in his country, which he ruled with an iron fist from 1990 to 2019.

Sunninghill Park was knocked down and replaced with a 14 bedroom mansion in 2016 after the original house – built as a gift for Andrew and Fergie – fell into disrepair as it sat abandoned.

A spokesperson for the opposition media group Kazakhstan2.0 told The Sun Online they were “certain” Prince Andrew had benefited from his ties to Kazakhstan.

“The Prince’s ties with the Kazakh elite go way back,” they said.

Prince Andrew pictured in Phuket in 2001 - where he is alleged to have met Goga

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Prince Andrew pictured in Phuket in 2001 – where he is alleged to have met GogaCredit: The Mega Agency
The embattled Duke of York was introduced to the Kazakh despot's relative through Goga, right

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The embattled Duke of York was introduced to the Kazakh despot’s relative through Goga, rightCredit: Rex Features

According to emails released to the Mail on Sunday, in 2007, two months before the SouthYork sale, Andrew’s private secretary Amanda Thirsk urged the crown estate to sell one of its valuable properties in Kensington to Timur Kulibayev.

At the time, the Duke was a government trade envoy.

Thirsk also asked about a deal for two pieces of land right next to Sunninghill and said they wanted to “work with the crown estate on some joint development projects”.

When the emails came to light in 2016, the crown estate said that no deal on any London properties went through as a result of the intervention.

At the time, spokesperson said in a statement: “We’re not aware of any transaction taking place in London connected with this email.

“In any event, all our transactions are carried out in fully commercial terms in line with our statutory remit.”

Buckingham Palace said at the time that the Sunninghill sale “was a straight commercial transaction between the trust which owned the house and the trust which bought it.”

It said: “There were no side deals and absolutely no arrangement from the Duke of York to benefit otherwise or to commit to any other commercial arrangement.”

Andrew stepped down as an official government trade envoy in 2011 following criticism of his former friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

'SouthYork' being demolished less than 30 years after it was built

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‘SouthYork’ being demolished less than 30 years after it was builtCredit: Rex
The house lay empty for 10 years after its sale before being rebuilt by Kulibayev

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The house lay empty for 10 years after its sale before being rebuilt by KulibayevCredit: � Kelvin Bruce

And Kazakh journalist told the Daily Mail in 2010 that the over the odds price may have been a “thank you” to Andrew.

They said: “There are many ways of saying thank you in Kazakhstan.

“But this method – paying a higher price for what you buy than it is worth – is a common method of rewarding a friend.”

Meanwhile, Goga rubbished speculation around the property in 2013.

She said: “I can’t believe all the fuss about this stupid house. I introduced them, so what? I’m not a real estate agent. All the speculation about the price

“I think they just didn’t want to barter with a royal.”

Rakhat Aliyev, who was married to Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter and was once Kazakhstan’s deputy foreign minister and security chief, claimed the country’s former president was behind the Sunninghill purchase.

In his book The Godfather-in-Law, he claims Nazarbayev “was seeking to make Prince Andrew one of the lobbyists to promote the interests of the mining and metals company Kazakhmys.

“He also wanted to count the British Royal Family among his friends.”

There is no indication Prince Andrew ever lobbied in the way suggested.

Aliyev later said: “Prince Andrew was not hired. But on a case-by-case basis, when something is wrong, when it is necessary to get some information, or any other business of the president’s in the UK, Andrew could be asked to do something or to clarify something or to know something.”

He was found dead in his Austrian prison cell in February 2015 while on trial for murder.

The following year, an independent investigation ruled out suicide, while his own lawyer said he was highly suspicious about the death. 

Kazakhstan protests timeline

KAZAKHSTAN in Central Asia has been gripped by bloody protests in recent days. This is how the violence unfolded

Jan 2: Residents in Zhanaozen blocked roads in protest at increasing gas prices.

Jan 3: Hundreds gathered in the city square overnight. Similar protests broke out in the capital Nur-Sultan, as well as the country’s largest city Almaty.

Jan 4: Police used stun grenades and tear gas on protesters in central Almaty. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev introduced a state of emergency in the capital.

Jan 5: President Tokayev accepted the government’s resignation. Former President Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned as Chairman of the country’s security council. Much of the country lost internet connection. The offices of the Almaty mayor were stormed and set on fire. Two Kazakh soldiers were killed trying to retake Almaty’s airport. Russian media reported the President’s home had been attacked with rifles and grenades. A nationwide state of emergency was introduced until Jan 19.

Jan 6: Dozens of protesters and at least 12 police officers killed, with one found beheaded. 3,000 Russian paratroopers arrived in the country after President Tokayev begged for help from the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO)

Jan 7: Tokayev brands protesters “bandits and terrorists” and orders troops to shoot anyone without warning. He also announces a cut in fuel prices for the next six months. Nazarbayev reportedly flees with his family. Seven more police officers and an Israeli national are killed.

Jan 8: Former Kazakh PM Karim Massimov arrested on suspicion of treason for plotting a coup. State reports claim 40 people have died and more than 4,000 arrested.

Jan 9: Death toll revised to 164 including two children, with 5,800 arrested. The government claims “the situation is stabilised”.

Jan 10: Internet restored in Kazakhstan after a five-day blackout. The government blames “foreign-trained Islamist radicals” for the protests.

Jan 11: Tokayev claims order has now been restored, but criticises former President Nazarbayev for the huge inequality in the country. Almost 10,000 people arrested and 164 people killed.

In early 2020, it emerged that Nazarbayev’s other daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva and his grandson Nurali Aliyev own London property worth at least £80m.

The National Crime Agency issued unexplained wealth orders, used to track suspicious funds, against three properties in the capital, including a mansion on The Bishop’s Avenue, one of the city’s most expensive streets.

But these orders were later dismissed by a judge who found the NCA hadn’t proved any link between the purchase of the homes and criminal funds.

The NCA were approached for comment. A spokesman refused to confirm or deny whether the organisation has any interest in the sale of SouthYork.

A Home Office spokeswoman told The Sun Online: “Any investigation will be led by law enforcement authorities and it will be for them to confirm whether one is or has taken place.

“Any investigation into an individual’s assets would be an operational decision, which can only be made by a law enforcement authority who are operationally independent from the government.”

The Sun Online has approached the Duke of Andrew, the crown estate, and Buckingham Palace – both declined.

And The Sun Online also approached Goga Ashkenazi and Gazprom – on whose board Timur Kulibayev sits – for comment.

Queen ‘heartbroken’ over Prince Andrew scandal as Royal family support ‘thin on the ground’, expert claims

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