A global activist group has filed a court action to pressure the Scottish
government to use its well-known “McMafia” law to compel Donald Trump
to reveal the mysterious sources of his all-cash purchases and development of his Scottish golf
The US-based nonprofit Avaaz, an online activist network, filed a petition in Scotland
’s highest civil court this week seeking a judicial review of the government’s decision not to pursue an “Unexplained Wealth Order” against Trump’s businesses. The former US president purchased the Turnberry resort in 2006 and Aberdeenshire in 2014 in all-cash transactions when he was heavily in debt and couldn’t afford them.
The court action comes amid speculation that the clubs are involved in a money-laundering scheme. The British government
implemented Unexplained Wealth Orders in 2018 to assist officials in combating money-laundering and other illegal enrichment operations.
Despite the millions of dollars Trump has poured into them, the clubs have yet to turn a profit; the resorts lost about $75 million over the course of eight years, from 2009 to 2019.
The clubs have not paid taxes to the Scottish government, as Trump boasted when seeking approval for them; in fact, Trump's resorts have received approximately $800,000 in COVID-19
subsidies from British taxpayers.
The Trump Organization
has said in statements and filings that it has spent more than $140 million on the complex, according to Reuters, which was the first to report on the Avaaz petition. Trump purchased the Aberdeenshire site in 2006 for more than $10 million in cash and spent at least $60 million more building a course, hotel, and cottages, according to company filings.
A $185 million, 500-unit housing
development next to the Aberdeenshire club was still under construction as of last year.
Trump paid $60 million in cash for the Turnberry resort in Aryshire in 2014, and the Trump Organization spent another $100 million in cash on upgrades and other expenses, according to U.K. filings.
Despite concerns about the properties, Parliament voted 89 to 32 in February to reject a Scottish Green
Party motion to compel Trump to reveal his financial sources.
Though lawmakers criticized Trump, they believed it was up to law enforcement, not government, to impose an Unexplained Wealth Order, Avaaz argued in its court petition. In fact, Avaaz argued, it is up to the ministers.
“Scottish Ministers are turning a blind eye to serious questions about Trump’s unexplained $60 million cash purchase of Turnberry,” said Avaaz’s legal director, Nick Flynn, in a statement to Stardia, adding that there is “reasonable suspicion as to the sufficiency of Trump’s lawful income for the purpose of purchasing Turnberry.”
“If Trump is unable to explain the source of the money, the Scottish government must take action; if Trump is able to explain the source of the money, the issue is resolved.”
When the issue was put to a vote in Parliament in February, Trump's son Eric, a director of the Scottish enterprises, dismissed it, accusing politicians of pushing "personal agendas," and claiming that the Trump Organization had "made an overwhelming contribution to the leisure and tourism industry" in the country.
Accounting for the former president's Scottish resorts is unusual because Trump is the creditor for his own businesses, so payment for many of the resort's costs flows directly back to the Trump Organization.
According to The New Yorker
Adam Davidson, the resorts' "money disappearing" operations provide an opportunity for money laundering.
Davidson explained that Trump “owns the asset, lends the money, owes the money, and is owed the money.” “The overall picture is crystal clear: Every year, Trump lends millions to himself, spends all of that money on something, and claims the asset is worth all of the money he spent,” Davidson said.
But Trump couldn't possibly have spent all of the money he claims on his properties, according to Davidson. "We have the planning documents. We know how much he spent — it's far less than what he claims. The money truly disappears. It goes from one pocket to another pocket, and then the pocket is opened to reveal nothing is there."
We have the planning documents. We know how much he spent--it's far less than what he claims. The money truly vanishes. It moves from one pocket to another, and then the pocket is opened to reveal nothing is inside. 7/ — Adam Davidson (@adamdavidson) September 29, 2020