It must have been a welcome spot of light relief for Jamie Dimon. Only days after he agreed to a $13bn settlement with US regulators, the boss of JPMorgan – and dozens of his corporate clients – were sitting back amid the splendour of Buckingham Palace, enjoying a fine dinner and performances by the Royal Philharmonic and the English National Ballet.
The event, hosted by Prince Andrew, Duke of York, reflects growing enthusiasm by the Royal Family to use its premises to promote business interests. But it also risks stoking criticism over the intimacy of the royal family with business.
According to the Palace, the Duke of York is involved in efforts to support British business, and the event was an opportunity to “engage” with international chief executives about what Britain has to offer.
But Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the home affairs select committee, said the arrangement threatened to undermine the cachet of thepalaces and even the security of the royal family.
He compared it to controversial plans to open up the House of Commons to businesses, telling. “It could be that a company perhaps is not blue-chip but may look it,” he said. “We could take their money and only afterwards find out it is not an appropriate company to book a room in Buckingham Palace.”
He added: “This should be a special place. This is the home of the Queen. Where is it all going to end?”[eap_ad_1]
The guest list for the JPMorgan event on October 30, included Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, Indian industrialist Ratan Tata and Tony Blair, the former prime minister who chairs JPMorgan’s “international council” of senior advisers.
Key to organising the night was David Mayhew, the veteran City dealmaker who agreed a decade ago to sell to JPMorgan the Cazenove brokerage he led for many years. Mr Mayhew, still an adviser to JPMorgan, is a close friend of Prince Andrew.
There are different accounts of the financial arrangements for Buckingham Palace event. One senior participant insisted that the bank paid nothing for the evening but the Palace said the bank paid an undisclosed fee for food, drink and the venue. The bank said it also made charitable donations to the orchestra and ballet company.
This summer, the Queen opened the Palace gardens for a three-day trade fair promoting the wares of Royal Warrant-holders from chimney sweeps to car manufacturers.
Paul Flynn, a republican Labour MP, said renting out Buckingham Palace to US investment banks should be only the start in making the royal family less dependent on the taxpayer. “I think they could raise about £100m a year by renting out rooms to tourists on a timeshare basis – they’ve got about 600 rooms,” he said.
Prince Andrew has a mixed record in promoting British business. He stepped down two years ago as the UK’s trade envoy following a string of controversies over his business links, most notably his close friendship with US tycoon Jeffrey Epstein who was jailed for sex offences.[eap_ad_4]