A cousin of King Charles’ is under fire for setting up an extravagant African safari trip for a close pal of Vladimir Putin, according to a report.
Alexandra “Lexi” Bowes-Lyon, a New York-based British socialite whose father is the King’s third cousin, arranged a private jet, a list of excursions and a three-day stay at a Kenyan lavish ranch for Oleg Deripaska, 52, known to be the Russian president’s favorite industrialist, according to a report from the UK’s The Sunday Times.
Bowes-Lyon, 37, reportedly organized the February 2021 trip as the philanthropic director at Space for Giants USA, the American branch of a British-registered elephant charity whose backers include her royal family.
Deripaska was blacklisted by the US Treasury Department at the time of the luxury excursions for allegedly meddling in the 2020 election — calling into question whether Bowes-Lyon and her nonprofit knowingly violated US sanctions.
According to the report, she and SFG’s CEO Dr. Max Graham personally welcomed Deripaska at the lavish Suyian Ranch, an invitation-only safari in Laikipia county after flying him out on an aircraft leased by the charity.
Graham is said to have unsuccessfully lobbied Deripaska to buy a nearby ranch for the charity as the Russian billionaire took in the incredible sights and wild animal safaris.
The CEO, who founded the charity in 2011, confirmed to The Times that SFG received money from Deripaska after the imposition of the US sanction but said that the funds were deposited in its UK rather than American operation.
“We are not in a position to confirm or deny that Space for Giants has or has not breached US sanctions in relation to the 2021 safari given that no competent authority has ever ruled on this,” Graham said.
“What we can say is that no Space for Giants entity, Lexi Bowes-Lyon nor myself have ever knowingly or deliberately breached sanctions.”
Despite its claims of innocence, SFG became the subject of an FBI and Department of Justice investigation over sanctions evasions by Deripaska and his associates just seven months after the trip.
US citizens, residents and entities are prohibited from taking part in financial transactions with sanctioned individuals, an offense punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Graham said that investigators assured the charity that it was not under suspicion of criminality and that he was fully cooperating with authorities.
He refused twice, however, to tell The Times whether SFG disclosed the role of US entities or persons connected in facilitating Deripaska’s visit.
In November 2022, more than a year after the approach from the US authorities, the charity filed a “serious incident report” to the Charity Commission saying that it was co-operating with law enforcement.
In accounts filed that month, it disclosed it had been contacted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the US Treasury’s sanctions and national security wing, about the “relationships and contacts” of a sanctioned person.
A spokesperson for Deripaska — who was charged in 2022 for allegedly conspiring with three women to skirt economic sanctions — told The Times that they would respond to questions about the Kenya trip.
“Mr Deripaska finds it utterly disgusting how journalists put immense efforts into cooking up sensational garbage from thin air, all while genuine tragedies continue to unfold in Ukraine. This reckless pursuit of cheap thrills amidst actual humanitarian disasters seriously raises doubts about the intellectual and moral acuity of the press.”
SFG and Deripaska already had a relationship dating back to 2018 — the year he was blacklisted by the US.
He reportedly attended a $50,000-a-head black-tie dinner in Mayfair, London, where Prince William, then Duke of Cambridge, was being recognized as the guest of honor.
Deripaska’s company Rusal, a Kremlin-backed aluminum giant also sanctioned by the US, also popped up in a 2020 list of SFG’s “corporate and charitable partnerships.”
The post King Charles’ cousin under questioning for arranging safari trip for close Putin pal: report appeared first on New York Post.