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Royal property manager found guilty of corruption

A tourist stands in the rain outside Buckingham Palace in London, Britain August 31, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

LONDON (Reuters) - A former deputy property manager in the British royal household has been found guilty of corruption over the awarding of building work contracts at Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace.

Ronald Harper was convicted at Southwark Crown Court of conspiracy to make corrupt payments, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Harper worked with an annual budget of 2.3 million pounds ($3 million) and was able to authorise orders worth up to 30,000 pounds, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

But the court heard that Harper had received over 70,000 pounds in covert payments from companies which were awarded lucrative contracts for mechanical and electrical work in Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s Gallery, St James’ Palace and Kensington Palace, and in connection with the awarding of a Royal Warrant.

“Ronald Harper abused his position of trust for his own personal gain and to the detriment of the interests of the Royal Household ...,” Luke Bulpitt, Specialist Prosecutor in CPS Special Crime Division, said in a statement.

Christopher Murphy and Aseai Zlaoui were also convicted of conspiracy to make corrupt payments while Steven Thompson and Glynn Orridge pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud.

Harper was found guilty of conspiring to receive corrupt payments from the former owners of a company called Melton Power Services (MPS), which had been granted a royal warrant on Harper’s recommendation.

Sentencing will be at a later date.

Buckingham Palace is Queen Elizabeth’s London residence while Kensington Palace is home to Prince William and his wife Kate, and Prince Harry.

Reporting by Stephen Addison; editing by Mark Heinrich