Prince Andrew may be selling his £18million ski chalet to protect his assets rather than pay off his sex abuse accuser, US lawyers have said.
Earlier this month, sources close to the Duke confirmed that the sale of the property in the exclusive Swiss ski resort of Verbier is ‘proceeding’ after a mystery buyer agreed to take it off his hands.
Andrew was only able to sell the residence, called Chalet Helora, after settling a £6.6million debt to French socialite Isabelle de Rouvre, 74, who sold it to him and Sarah Ferguson in 2014 also for £18million.
The deal led to speculation that he would use the money to pay his legal bills as he faces a lawsuit from Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claims she was trafficked to have sex with him by paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein.
But Spencer Kuvin, who represented the victims of Epstein, believes the sale could actually be designed to prevent Giuffre from seizing the Duke’s assets.
Prince Andrew may be selling his £18million ski chalet to protect his assets rather than pay off his sex abuse accuser Virginia Giuffre (both pictured in 2001), US lawyers have said
The lawyer told the Mirror: ‘If Virginia gets a judgment against Andrew, if this went all the way through to trial and she received a financial judgment in her favour, she could execute on any properties he has, the most likely being his ski chalet.
‘If Andrew had properties in any companion country that would abide by such jurisdiction of the US, she can execute on those properties.’
He added: ‘If the Queen has transferred any property to him, anywhere throughout the entire world, they could try and execute on that property if successful in foreign courts.’
Andrew and Fergie agreed with Ms de Rouvre that the chalet would be paid for in instalments.
But Ms de Rouvre claimed the Yorks failed to make the final instalment of £5m, resulting in her launching legal action against them in the Swiss courts two years ago for the amount she was owed, plus interest, which came to a combined £6.6 million.
Under Swiss law, he was prevented from selling the chalet until the matter had been resolved.
Andrew was only able to sell the property (pictured above), called Chalet Helora, after settling a £6.6million debt to French socialite Isabelle de Rouvre, 74, who sold it to him and Sarah Ferguson in 2014 also for £18million
Ms de Rouvre confirmed the payment had been made and said: ‘The war is finished. It is the end of the matter. I have nothing to do with it now. That’s all.
‘I don’t know what they are doing now. They were here at Christmas but I only know that because I read it in the press. I did not see them.
‘So Happy Christmas and that’s that. The end.
‘It was about six weeks ago that the matter was closed. It was November. It’s done. They paid the money and it was done. It is closed for me. The war is over.’
A friend of the socialite said it had been a ‘hugely stressful’ time for Ms de Rouvre.
Andrew pictured in 2001 with ex-wife Sarah Ferguson and the children in Verbier – the exclusive Swiss ski resort where the chalet is located
Meanwhile, a source close to Andrew previously confirmed to MailOnline: ‘I can confirm that the legal action has been halted and that the chalet is being sold – but otherwise no comment on private financial matters.’
There is no completion date for the sale but property experts in Verbier claimed that it could be ‘just a matter of weeks.’
Andrew is believed to have finally paid Ms de Rouvre late last year. She said: ‘The war is over. He has paid the money.’
The latest comments follow the Queen sensationally stripping Andrew of his honorary military roles, royal patronages, and official ‘HRH’ status earlier this month.
Giuffre alleges she was forced to have sex with the Duke on three occasions when she was a minor under US law.
Andrew denies the allegations and will fight the lawsuit as a ‘private citizen’. He is not being accused of criminal wrongdoing.