Prince Michael of Kent, first cousin to Queen Elizabeth II, has been accused of offering to sell access to Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinHillicon Valley: Senate unanimously confirms Chris Inglis as first White House cyber czar | Scrutiny mounts on Microsoft's surveillance technology | Senators unveil bill to crack down on cyber criminals Ukrainian diplomat calls for Russia to withdraw after Biden-Putin summit Meghan McCain, Whoopi Goldberg spar over Biden's outburst at CNN reporter MORE in exchange for money in a bombshell report published on Saturday.

In an investigation conducted by British news outlets Channel 4 and The Sunday Times, two undercover reporters posed as South Korean executives wanting Michael’s help with their fake gold investment company, which was dubbed House of Haedong.

The investigation was looking into allegations that Michael, 78, and his business associate Simon Isaacs, 4th Marquess of Reading, were “secretly trading on their links to the notorious Russian regime of President Putin.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The Sunday Times reports that Michael held up his connection to Russia, saying it “could bring some benefit” and mentioned that he had once been awarded the prestigious Order of Friendship by the Russian presidency.

“I have never had any close connection before with gold and the idea makes me very happy,” Michael said during a Zoom call with the reporters posing as gold executives.

The House of Haedong offered Michael $200,000 for a speech and a monthly payment of $50,000 to be an adviser on the company's interests in Russia. He reportedly "reacted positively" to this offer.

Michael’s private secretary also reportedly told the reporters that he could make introductions with people high up in the Russian government.

“We can certainly help in that sense,” she reportedly told them. “Even if he doesn’t have direct contact to the person that you want, there is a way in. There is always a way in.”

After Michael left the Zoom call, Isaacs told the reporters that the prince was “Her Majesty’s unofficial ambassador to Russia” and that his “confidential” access to Putin was still in place despite multiple provocations believed to have been carried out by Putin’s government.

“If he’s with Putin and five or six other Putin ministers, Putin will be able to say, ‘Right, well, that’s the guy who you need to work with’. And that’s the key, really ... as long as you get authority from the top, you can get virtually anything done in Russia,” Isaacs told the reporters.

“This is kind of slightly discreet,” the marquess added. “We’re talking relatively discreetly here, because we wouldn’t want the world to know that he is seeing Putin purely for business reasons, if you follow me.”

The day before this Zoom call, the U.K. issued a new round of sanctions against the Russian government for its alleged involvement in the assassination attempt on opposition leader Alexei Navalny. These sanctions were meant to cut off investment into Russia, the Times notes.

This offer from the fake gold investment company was also made to four other members of the royal family. Three declined, while another did not respond.

ADVERTISEMENT

Michael’s office told The Guardian that the prince had no “special relationship” with Putin and had last met with him in 2003.

“Prince Michael has no special relationship with President Putin. They last met in June 2003 and Prince Michael has had no contact with him or his office since then," his office said.

“I thought the approach from the House of Haedong was genuine and I was only trying to facilitate an introduction to my friend Prince Michael,” Isaacs told The Guardian in a statement. “I made a mistake and overpromised and for that I am truly regretful. I wasn’t at my peak as I was recovering from a kidney transplant.”

The Times notes that the queen is believed to have a good relationship with Michael. He served as a pageboy in her wedding to the late Prince Philip and often represents her at various events.

Michael does not receive funding from the sovereign grant, which is an annual payment to the royal family made by the British government for their official duties, the Times reports. Last year Meghan, Duchess of SussexMeghan MarkleKate Middleton says she has yet to meet Prince Harry and Meghan's daughter Harry and Meghan deny not discussing new daughter's name with the queen Duchess Meghan releases debut children's book MORE, drew attention to Michael when she pointed out that he was permitted to retain his royal status while earning a private income, which her husband Prince HarryPrince HarryMeghan McCain, Whoopi Goldberg spar over Biden's outburst at CNN reporter Kate Middleton says she has yet to meet Prince Harry and Meghan's daughter Harry and Meghan deny not discussing new daughter's name with the queen MORE was not allowed to do.

Michael earns an income as a business consultant through his personal company Cantium Services, the Times reports.

The Guardian reports that John Healey, a British member of parliament for the Labour Party, has called into question whether Michael should be permitted to keep his honorary military titles in light of the report, saying the investigation by The Sunday Times and Channel 4 “raises serious questions."