Prosecutors still have a way to investigate Donald Trump’s two golf courses in Scotland thanks to a recent ruling from a judge in that country.
Lord Sandison of the Court of Session made the decision on Wednesday, allowing an appeal against the government’s previous decision not to open the investigation.
“I give permission for the petition to proceed without condition or restriction,” the judge wrote.
Since February a group of members of the Scottish Parliament has been trying to investigate where Mr Trump got the money from to buy his two resorts, Trump Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links in Scotland. As a basis for this investigation, the MPs looked for an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO), an instrument to investigate potential money laundering.
“This is not someone who instills confidence in solid finances and solid business,” MSP Patrick Harvie, who led the effort, told Mother Jones. “The fact that there are a lot of allegations floating around that the US authorities have been investigating, be it in relation to Russia or its domestic political dealings – you don’t have to sniff long to see something smell.”
The Trump Organization has denied any wrongdoing, and Eric Trump, the company’s executive vice president, hit Harvie particularly hard.
“Patrick Harvie is nothing more than a national embarrassment with his pathetic antics, which only serve himself and his political agenda,” the son of the former US president told The Scotsman.
In any case, the Scottish government rejected the application for a UWO – a victory for the Trumps.
On Wednesday, Lord Sandison paved the way to undo that victory. In his ruling, a judicial review can challenge the government’s decision not to issue the UWO – an appeal that, in the judge’s view, “has a real chance of success”.
The Trump organization vehemently condemned the decision.
“This is political game at its worst and a terrible waste of taxpayers’ money that is further damaging Scotland’s reputation as a serious place to invest and do business in,” Sarah Malone, executive vice president of Trump International, Scotland told The Independent. “We have developed and operated two globally recognized, award-winning Scotland visitor destinations and are a major contributor to the Scottish leisure and tourism industry. This latest attempt to undermine these investments is an absolute shame. “
Avaaz, the nonprofit that has obtained Lord Sandison’s permission, will pursue the call. The Scottish High Court is expected to hear the case later this year.
Among the rationale behind Wednesday’s ruling was the Trump organization’s recent legal troubles in New York, where its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, has been charged with 15 criminal charges. Avaaz lawyers argued that this gave even more cause for investigation into Trump resorts in Scotland.
“From the matters set out in the petition, it appears that there are real and significant concerns about the financial arrangements of the Trump Organization, of which Mr. Trump is sole or major owner,” Avaaz attorney Kay Springham told the judge.
This argument appeared to be convincing.
On Wednesday, Mr. Harvie welcomed the new ruling.
“I’m glad we took a step forward to clarify why Trump’s dealings in Scotland were not investigated,” the MSP told Insider. “An inexplicable property regime would be a clear signal that business in Scotland must be transparent and accountable, regardless of the person concerned.”