London (CNN Business)Accounting firm KPMG has dropped its support of Prince Andrew’s [email protected] networking event, severing ties with the Duke of York before his controversial interview with the BBC on Saturday.
KPMG’s decision not to renew sponsorship of the [email protected] initiative was made in August, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter. Although KPMG had considered the bad press the Duke of York had been getting because of his involvement with Jeffrey Epstein, it was not a deciding factor in terminating the sponsorship, the source said. “KPMG’s sponsorship contract with [email protected] finished at the end of October,” a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace told CNN on Monday. “A full programme of [email protected] events is continuing across the United Kingdom”. KPMG declined to comment. Cisco also announced Monday that it has severed ties with Prince Andrew’s event.Read More”Cisco made the decision not to renew its support of [email protected] in April 2019 and our final engagement with the program was in June [email protected] is an initiative founded by the Duke of York in 2014 with the aim of connecting young entrepreneurs with business leaders and investors. The organization says it connects entrepreneurs and startups with potential supporters, including CEOs, industry influencers, angel investors, mentors and business partners.KPMG and Cisco (CSCO) might not be the only companies distancing itself from Prince Andrew and the [email protected] initiative. A spokesperson Swedish pharmaceutical AstraZeneca told CNN on Monday its “three year partnership with [email protected] is due to expire at the end of this year and is currently being reviewed.”Other companies that partner with [email protected] include:• Air Asia• ARM• Bank of China• Barclays• Bosch• BT• Google• Hult Business School• Inmarsat• InMotion• JD.com• Li Ka Shing Foundation• Microsoft• Salesforce• Standard Chartered• Tencent• TV AztecaThe Duke of York told BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis he had seen nothing that struck him as suspicious when he was around Epstein, who died by apparent suicide in August while awaiting trial on federal charges that he sexually abused underage girls and ran a sex trafficking ring. Epstein had pleaded not guilty.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, 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.He chose to stay at Epstein’s home, the prince said, because it was “convenient” and “honorable.”– CNN Business’ Julia Horowitz contributed to this report