Are Trump’s Scottish Golf Courses a Front for Money Laundering?


If you have followed post-presidential life and the days of Donald Trump, you know that unlike Barack obama and George W. Bush, who left office and threw themselves into memoir writing and painting, respectively, Trump spends his days telling people the election was stolen from him and amassing a list of legal issues that would make the Manson family blush . There are, of course, the 29 lawsuits and four criminal investigations against him and now we can add a potential investigation into his Scottish golf courses to the roll.

Reuters reports that Avaaz, a human rights group, has filed a petition with Scotland’s highest civil court seeking judicial review of the government’s decision to dismiss an “unexplained wealth order” on the grounds of Trump’s local golf course. In February, the Scottish Parliament voted 89-32 against the motion, which was brought forward by the Scottish Green Party and reportedly sought information on the source of the money used by the former President’s company to buy property in Aberdeenshire, where he built a golf course. and the hotel, and Turnberry, a seaside course bought for $ 60 million. After decades of financing real estate purchases by debt, Trump has lost over $ 300 million in cash purchases and developed Scottish courts; according to Reuters, none of them made a profit.

All of this apparently struck some Scots as quite to very fishy. By Reuters:

[Patrick] Harvie, the leader of the Greens, expressed concerns in the Scottish Parliament about the way courses were being funded. “Big questions remain about Trump’s trade relationship in Scotland,” he said in February 2020. The purchase of the two courses, he said, “was part of the huge spending spree in Trump cash in the midst of a global financial crisis, when his son was bragging about money flowing from Russia. Harvie was referring to a comment attributed to Eric trump by a veteran golf writer James Dodson, who relayed a conversation with Trump’s son in a 2017 interview with National Public Radio. Dodson said Eric Trump told him the classes were funded with money from Russia.

The UK government introduced unexplained wealth ordinances in 2018 to help authorities tackle money laundering and target the illicit wealth of foreign officials. Orders do not trigger criminal proceedings. But if the Trump organization couldn’t convince the court that the money was clean, the government, in theory, could seize the properties.

When Parliament voted against Avaaz’s motion in February, Humza Yousaf, the Justice Minister and a member of the ruling Scottish National Party, argued that wealth ordinances should be introduced by law enforcement, not politicians, saying: ‘There must be no political interference in law enforcement, ”according to Reuters. He added that the Civil Recovery Unit, an executing agency that reports to Scotland’s highest legal official, should ‘take on the investigative role’. Avaaz disputed this argument, asking the Edinburgh Court of Session to rule that Scottish ministers have the exclusive responsibility for deciding whether to request an unexplained wealth order and should not pass that responsibility on to other people or institutions. He also insists that the legal standard for issuing a wealth order against Trump has already been met.

A Trump spokesperson did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment. Eric Trump said in February that Scottish politicians who support the Unexplained Order of Wealth “are pushing their personal agendas”, while claiming that the Trump organization has “made an overwhelming contribution to the leisure and tourism industry” . He also denied making the Russian money comment to Dodson. Donald Trump insists he did not use Russian money to buy the golf courses.

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