- The legislature in Scotland is considering whether to investigate the Trump organization’s finances.
- Lawyers cited the Manhattan prosecutor’s criminal investigation of the company and its CFO as a reason to move forward.
- A judge weighs up whether the legislature can initiate an investigation with a “McMafia” order.
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As Manhattan prosecutors continue their investigation into the Trump Organization’s finances, lawyers in Scotland are citing their progress to lobby for the opening of a parallel investigation into funding for golf courses in the country by the former US President’s company.
In a virtual trial in Scotland Thursday, Attorney Kay Springham asked a judge to allow the government to issue an “unexplained property order,” or UWO, also known as a “McMafia order,” The Scotsman reported. The order would force the Trump Organization to open their books and explain how they funded the acquisition of their two Scottish resorts.
To convince the judge, Springham referred to the ongoing criminal case in New York, where Manhattan prosecutors have brought tax fraud charges against the Trump organization and its CFO Allen Weisselberg.
Weisselberg was instrumental in running the company’s two golf courses in Scotland. As Insider first reported, Weisselberg was fired from his position as director of Trump International Golf Club Scotland, the holding company that owns Trump’s Aberdeenshire golf resort, Trump International Golf Links, a few days after the charges were filed in New York.
Springham said the charges against Weisselberg show why the Scottish government should be concerned about the Trump Organization hiding the sources of its wealth.
She suggested that a UWO could extend to both Weißelberg and former President Donald Trump.
Allen Weisselberg, Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization, resigns after his hearing in the New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan neighborhood of New York City, New York, United States, on July 1, 2021.
Brendan McDermid / Reuters
“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 principal owner,” said Springham, quoted by The Scotsman, adding: “Since filing the petition there were further developments … the indictment against the CFO of the Trump organization ” [Allen] Weisselberg. “
Trump Organization officials did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
In January, Patrick Harvie, co-founder of the Greens and member of the Scottish Parliament, called for a UWO investigation into how the Trump Organization funded the cash-only purchase of the golf courses.
But Nicola Sturgeon, who heads the Scottish government, said the Scottish Parliament lacks that power and only legal officials – or independent prosecutors – can issue such an order.
Harvie and Avaaz, a nonprofit group, deny Sturgeon’s claim. Avaaz hired Springham to convince a judge that Sturgeon was wrong in their interpretation of the law and that Scotland’s elected ministers could invoke his powers.
The UWO is a relatively new legal instrument – the UK introduced it in 2018 to help investigate money laundering and other financial crimes.
US President Donald Trump drives a golf buggy on his golf course at Trump Turnberry Resort in South Ayrshire in 2018.
Andrew Milligan / PA Images via Getty Images
Both of Trump’s Scottish golf resorts have recorded steady losses since Trump ran them and owe creditors millions of pounds. Harvie asked in February how Trump managed to buy both resorts between 2006 and 2014. Avaaz said Trump bought both on a $ 400 million spending spree, which raised questions about how the deals were funded.
In July, Manhattan prosecutors brought 15-point indictments against Weißelberg and the Trump Organization, accusing the CFO of evading taxes on $ 1.7 million in revenue. Weißelberg and the company’s lawyers pleaded not guilty.
Lord Sandison, who will rule on Avaaz’s appeal, said he would rule on the case shortly.
If the High Court rules that the Scottish Government has misinterpreted the law, Scottish lawmakers have a chance to decide whether to open a UWO investigation into the Trump organization.