Campaigners attempted to get a McMafia wealth order for Donald Trump so that he could explain how he obtained $60 million to purchase his Scottish flagship golf course.
Edinburgh’s Court of Session was considering the Scottish government’s decision not to investigate Trump’s all-cash purchase of golf resort Turnberry, south of Glasgow.
Trump, an avid golfer whose mother was Scottish, bought Turnberry for $60million in 2014, while the Trump Organization also owns the Trump International Golf Links in Balmedie.
According to UK company filings, Trump spent an additional $100 million on course improvements after the purchase of Turnberry.
In February, the Scottish government rejected a call to investigate how Trump funded the purchase of the luxury golf resort, prompting to advocacy group Avaaz to instruct lawyers to bring the case to Scotland’s top civil court.
But on Thursday, the campaigners’ bid was quashed as the court ruled ministers are not responsible for bringing unexplained-wealth orders (UWOs) against individuals, Business Insider reported.
Edinburgh’s Court of Session was considering the Scottish government’s decision not to investigate Trump’s (pictured) all-cash purchase of golf resort Turnberry, south of Glasgow
Trump, an avid golfer whose mother was Scottish, bought Turnberry for $60million in 2014, while the Trump Organization also owns the Trump International Golf Links in Balmedie
Britain introduced UWOs, also known as ‘McMafia’ orders after the BBC crime series by the same name, in 2018 to help authorities target the illicit wealth of foreign officials suspected of corruption and those involved in serious crimes.
They compel an individual to explain the source of their wealth but can pave the way for authorities to seize assets.
Bringing the case to the Court of Session, Avaaz argued a ‘towering cloud of suspicion’ hung over Trump’s purchase of Turnberry, but the court ruled it was not ministers’ responsibility to file a UWO against him.
Senior judge Craig Sandison agreed with the government’s decision not to probe the purchase, saying the responsibility to bring a UWO could be delegated to Scotland’s chief legal officer Dorothy Bain.
He said: ‘I do not find it possible to discern from section 396D any implicit Parliamentary intention that the Lord Advocate may not hold portfolio responsibility as the Scottish minister concerned with applying for a UWO, whether in relation to a politically exposed person or otherwise.’
Lord advocate Bain, who was appointed in June, could still put a McMafia order in action against the US businessman, 75, but she has not made any indication that she plans to do so.
This February the government rejected a call to investigate how Trump funded the purchase of Turnberry, leading to advocacy group Avaaz bringing the case to Scotland’s top civil court
Although the court decision has removed responsibility from Scottish ministers for making the final determination on whether Trump should file an UWO, Avaaz called upon Bain to investigate.
Nick Flynn is Avaaz’s legal director. He stated that although the law was clarified, there’s still suspicion surrounding Trump’s purchase.
He added: ‘The Lord Advocate should take urgent action in the interest of the rule of law and transparency, and demand a clear explanation of where the $60m used to buy Turnberry came from.’
After the court decision the Scottish government rejected a call to investigate how Trump funded the purchase of Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links in Balmedie.
In February, the Green Party of opposition presented a motion urging ministers to pursue a UWO for Trump. It was defeated in a vote 89 to 32.
Eric Trump’s son, who is the executive vice-president of The Trump Organization was critical of the opposition party’s request at that time as “pathetic”.
According to the court, ministers cannot apply for unexplained-wealth order against an individual. Donald Trump at Turnberry
Patrick Harvie (Green Party co-leader) argued that Trump’s financial conduct has been a concern for years. Eric, however, stated that politics should concentrate on the preservation of lives.
Eric Trump stated that Patrick Harvie was nothing but a national embarrassment because of his antics. He only serves himself and his political agenda.
The Court of Session is Scotland’s highest civil court and has the authority to order a UWO for Scottish ministers.
UWOs are used by the National Crime Agency, which focuses on serious crime. However, they have been limitedly used.
“If there is evidence of illicit funds, we can look into one,” a spokesperson for the NCA stated earlier in the year about the possibility that it could seek a UWO against former US President.