Prince Andrew faced more questions today after he was accused of owing £1.6 million to a Swiss couple – as he tries to complete the sale of his £18m Verbier ski chalet.
According to reports in the Swiss media, the debt to the mystery couple is preventing the Duke of York from completing the sale of his much-loved Chalet Helora.
It has been claimed that the disgraced royal was intending to use money from the sale of the property to help finance his £10million sex lawsuit settlement with accuser Virginia Giuffre.
In February of this year it was reported that Andrew had found a buyer for the chalet, after setting a separate £6.6million debt to French socialite Isabelle de Rouvre, 74, who he purchased the property from in 2014.
But the process appears to have stalled because the chalet is ‘under kidnapping’ as a result of the alleged debt. The chalet was frozen as an asset by Swiss authorities on December 15, 2020 according to Le Temps newspaper.
Sources close to Prince Andrew told MailOnline that the dispute will not prevent the property’s sale, and that while the Duke ‘did not deny owing the money’ to the couple he was ‘questioning the amount’
A moving van was spotted outside the £18 million chalet yesterday (June 9), despite the sale still being under contention
Prince Andrew is believed to owe £1.6 million, or around two million Swiss francs, to an unnamed Swiss couple (Pictured: Prince Andrew spotted for the first time since testing positive for coronavirus)
The source said: ‘This has nothing to do with the original purchase of the chalet, it’s a completely separate business transaction between the couple and the Duke.
‘It shouldn’t affect the sale of the property despite what the Swiss media says and is expected to go through as planned.
How do the royal family move house?
With removal vans spotted outside of Prince Andrew’s Swiss chalet this week, how do the royal family move their belongings from one property to another?
The royal family always use Abels as their removal company of choice
Neighbors were alerted to belongings leaving the chalet as a large blue removals van from London-based Abels had arrived in the village earlier this week and boxes had been taken from inside into the vehicle.
Abels was given a Royal Warrant by Her Majesty the Queen in 1981 and has been carrying out removal services for the Royal Household ever since and has been rewarded for its continued service.
‘Talks are underway to resolve the matter, which are expected to be concluded satisfactorily for all parties.’
Prince Andrew bought the Swiss chalet, which includes an indoor pool, sauna, boot room and terrace with spectacular views, with his then-wife Sarah Ferguson in 2014.
Ms de Rouvre who sold them the property now says she ‘pities’ the couple who are the subject of the new debt and branded him ‘an absolute fool’.
The disgraced royal owed the former chalet owner more than £6 million up until last year, when a lengthy legal battle culminated in the prince paying her £6.6 million.
Ms de Rouvre said she knows the stress she experienced trying to recoup the money owed to her after 2014.
She said: ‘It was a horrible experience. I do not understand how he operates and I feel very sorry for people who are involved with him in business.
‘It’s really rather unbelievable. He caused me such stress and now it is claimed too other people are owed money.
‘They [Andrew and Sarah] are so crazy. hey [Andrew] is an absolute fool and I just cannot understand how he goes about his life.
‘Really it is a tragedy and so bad for the Queen. I don’t know how she manages with them.
‘I am lucky that a deal was made and it is the end of the matter for me. I am fed up with the whole thing.’
She had sold the house, Chalet Helora, to her then-friends Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson for £18 million.
But the couple failed to pay a cash amount of £5 million. She agreed it could be deferred until December 2019, with interest accruing.
However, the pair did not honor the agreement despite repeated demands.
The sudden breakthrough came late last year when the Duke suddenly settled his debts.
It was believed this meant that he was free to proceed with a sale of the chalet, which has an indoor pool. But another stumbling block now seems to have emerged.
On Thursday MailOnline revealed that removal vans were outside the property and they have now left along with several UK registered cars which were used by the Duke and his former wife when they were staying in Verbier.
No-one at the removal firm, Abels, was available to comment but a villager in Verbier said: ‘It’s the talk of the place – everyone knew it had been soldered and now the removal van has turned up.
‘I’ve seen some guys shifting boxes and bits of furniture and they have been there all day and they don’t look as if they have finished – it’s huge van so I imagine they will be clearing the chalet completely.
The chalet in Verbier has an indoor pool, sauna, boot room and terrace with spectacular views
The prince is believed to be selling the chalet to help pay his multi-million pound settlement to Virginia Guiffre
Prince Andrew and ex-wife Sarah Ferguson with their two children, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie
Geneva law professor Nicolas Jeandin told Le Temps: ‘A kidnapping is a provisional measure. In a way, we block everything and we see what we are going to do next.
‘The objective is to prevent the debtor from disposing of the sequestered asset. The latter is blocked to allow, in a second step, the kidnapping creditor to have it realized in his favor.
‘A sale is in principle impossible, except with the agreement of the creditor.’
Prince Andrew has not been to the chalet in Verbier for several years, but his ex-wife Sarah and two daughters Beatrice and Eugenie spent the New Year in the luxury property with their families.
He stepped back as a senior royal in May 2020 after allegations emerged over his relationship with the disgraced sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein.
A high profile court case in which Virginia Guiffre, a victim of Epstein’s settled, accused the Duke of York of rape and other sexual crimes was out of court in March of this year.
The total settlement is believed to be around £12 million, and includes Ms Guiffre’s legal bills and an unspecified amount to a charity of Ms Guiffre’s choice.
He did not accept any liability when he made the settlement and vehemently denies the claims.
Buckingham Palace made it clear that the Queen would not be paying so the only option open to the disgraced prince was the sale of the chalet.
Prince Andrew was pictured in his first major royal role since the settlement was announced at the Duke of Edinburgh’s memorial ceremony earlier this year, where he helped the Queen down the aisle.
He did not appear in her Platinum Jubilee celebrations after testing positive for coronavirus.