Business

More companies are ditching Prince Andrew

Posted November 20, 2019 10:08 a.m. EST

— More companies are abandoning causes championed by Prince Andrew after the British royal's car crash interview about his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

UK telecoms company BT, Standard Chartered bank and the charitable arm of US tech company Salesforce are the latest in a series of companies to distance themselves from the Duke of York.

BT, which has almost 30 million mobile and broadband customers in the United Kingdom, said Wednesday it was reviewing its relationship with The Duke of York Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award, known as iDEA.

"In light of recent developments we are reviewing our relationship with the organization and hope that we might be able to work further with them, in the event of a change in their patronage," BT said in a statement.

A spokesperson said that Salesforce.org, which is listed as a corporate supporter on the award's website, is not currently engaged in the program. Salesforce.org is the the nonprofit arm of US tech company Salesforce.

On Tuesday, Standard Chartered said it would not renew its sponsorship of the prince's Pitch@Palace business networking event when it expires at the end of this year.

Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca told CNN on Monday that its "three year partnership with pitch@palace is due to expire at the end of this year and is currently being reviewed."

Tech company Cisco and accounting firm KPMG said this week that they have cut ties with Pitch@Palace. Cisco said it had taken its decision in April, while a source with direct knowledge of the matter said KPMG made its move in August.

Scrutiny of Prince Andrew's relationship with Epstein has intensified since August, when footage emerged appearing to show the royal inside Epstein's New York mansion two years after the billionaire first pleaded guilty to sex crimes.

Pitch@Palace was founded by the Duke of York in 2014 with the aim of connecting young entrepreneurs with business leaders, mentors and investors. iDEA provides digital skills training and awards to young people.

Prince Andrew, the second son of the Queen, has been heavily criticized after he gave an extraordinary interview to the BBC about his relationship with Epstein, who died by apparent suicide in August while awaiting trial on US federal charges accusing him of operating a sex trafficking ring.

One of Epstein's accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, has alleged that she was forced into sexual encounters with the prince while underage. In a 2015 federal court filing, Roberts Giuffre alleged Epstein forced her to perform sex acts with several prominent men, including Prince Andrew in 2001. All of them have denied the allegations.

During the BBC interview, Prince Andrew said he had no recollection of meeting Roberts Giuffre despite there being a photograph of them together. He also failed to deliver a convincing explanation as to why he had maintained ties to Epstein.

Prince Andrew told the broadcaster that he hoped to use his charitable work on eduction projects such as iDEA to reconnect with the public.

"I want people to ... to work together to come to, as it were, a solution to a bigger problem," he told the BBC.

— Samuel Quashie-Idun contributed to this article.

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