An impending court battle could see Scotland investigating one of Donald Trump’s golf courses. Advocacy group Avaaz says Trump’s $ 60 million purchase of the course needs to be explained. Scottish authorities have been reluctant to investigate. This case could force them. Loading Something is loading.
An impending court battle in Scotland could see the Scottish government forced into an unprecedented investigation into how former President Donald Trump came to buy a lavish all-cash golf course.
An advocacy group suspicious of Trump’s source of wealth is hoping to trigger a so-called unexplained wealth order unofficially known as the “McMafia” purchase investigation.
Nick Flynn, the legal director of campaign group Avaaz, told Insider there was a “cloud of suspicion” over Trump’s $ 60 million purchase of Turnberry, the seaside resort near Glasgow, in 2014 .
Trump bought the complex with cash, although he has spent his career relying on borrowed funds to build his real estate empire as the so-called “debt king.”
The source of the money is a secret, which has prompted speculation to fiercely deny that the money came from Russia.
James Dodson, a famous golf correspondent, said Eric Trump, director of both Turnberry and a second Trump resort in northeast Scotland, told him in 2014 that the Trump Organization had of “all the funding we need from Russia.”
When the story was released widely in 2017, Eric Trump denied Dodson’s claim, describing it as “completely fabricated.” There has been no other explanation offered for the unusual cash purchase.
The Scottish regional government, led by Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, has rejected earlier calls for a money laundering investigation into Trump’s business acquisitions in Scotland.
The seaside resorts served as the backdrop to memorable moments before and during his presidency. Trump, whose mother was Scottish, spoke warmly of his heritage and was keen to visit the country.
He visited Turnberry as a presidential hopeful in June 2016, a day after the UK voted to leave the European Union, and he then falsely claimed he had been there before the result is known and has predicted it accurately.
On a trip to the UK in 2018, he headed to Turnberry rather than staying in London, which helped him avoid mass protests which included a large airship outside Parliament describing him as a baby.
A Greenpeace protester flying over Donald Trump’s seaside resort in Turnberry, Scotland with a banner reading “Trump: Well Below Normal”. Trump had arrived at the hotel shortly before. John Linton / PA Images via Getty Images
In February this year, the Scottish Justice Minister called Trump a “deplorable individual” but argued that politicians lack the power to initiate unexplained wealth orders.
Now, however, Avaaz is preparing to bring Scottish ministers to the Court of Session, the country’s highest civil court. There, the group is considering arguing that ministers have misinterpreted the law and are wrong to conclude that such an investigation is beyond their power.
In a judicial review scheduled for Oct. 26-27, Avaaz lawyers plan to argue that ministers can in fact open an investigation into Trump’s finances.
An unexplained wealth order would allow Scotland to demand that the Trump Organization show how it financed purchases in Scotland.
In extreme cases, orders allow for the confiscation of property, even without proof of criminality. The intention was to allow the authorities to punish organized criminals without reaching the high threshold of criminal prosecution.
“Avaaz’s judicial review of Scottish ministers is a challenge to their complacency with the $ 60 million in cash that Trump used to buy the Turnberry golf course,” Flynn told Insider.
“There is a huge cloud of suspicion hanging over this iconic Scottish property that Sturgeon and his ministers have the power to dispel by demanding an unexplained wealth order demanding transparency on the source of Trump’s money.
Rather, Sturgeon has spent the last 2 years pushing our questions aside, pretending it had nothing to do with her.
“We hope to help them finally take responsibility for the unresolved issues surrounding Trump that threaten to undermine Scotland’s reputation for the rule of law and financial probity.”
Avaaz believes that if she wins the case, the government would be likely to undertake such an investigation. He could always choose not to, even if the court decided he could, but he would have to rely on different reasoning.
A government defeat could also increase support for an unexplained wealth order in the Scottish Parliament.
Trump in Scotland. Getty lawmakers voted earlier this year on whether or not they supported an unexplained wealth ordinance, with the motion failing with 32 votes in favor and 89 against.
Again, a vote in favor would not force an investigation, but it could make it harder for officials to resist.
The Trump Organization and the Scottish government did not respond to requests for comment until this story was published.
Eric Trump said in February that politicians pushing for an unexplained wealth order “are pushing their personal agendas forward,” Reuters reported.
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