Scotland’s MSPs are due to vote on whether Nicola Sturgeon’s administration should order an investigation into Donald Trump’s Scottish golf resorts.
The opposition-led vote in the Scottish Parliament aims to pressure the first minister to pursue an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) amid concerns about funding for the Trump organization’s resorts.
A UWO is a legal mechanism preserved by the courts that aims to compel individuals suspected of serious financial corruption – including potential money laundering – to explain the origin of their assets.
Wednesday’s opposition debate was convened by Scottish Greens co-chair Patrick Harvie, who said it was time to shed some light on Mr Trump’s “seedy” business dealings.
The MSPs said there were “proven concerns” related to the Trump Organization’s purchases of Turnberry golf course in Ayrshire and the purchase of land for its golf course in Balmedie, Aberdeenshire.
“The Scottish government has been trying for far too long to avoid the question of Donald Trump’s wealth,” Harvie told The Scotsman. “There are serious concerns about how he financed the cash purchases on his Scottish golf courses, but an investigation has never been made.”
He added: “That is why I am bringing this vote to Parliament. The government must pursue an inexplicable property regime to shed light on Trump’s shadowy dealings. ”
The vote following Wednesday’s debate is not binding – but could put more pressure on Ms. Sturgeon and her ministers to respond to repeated calls for investigation.
Aidan O’Neill QC, who prepared legal advice for the Avaaz activist group campaigning on the issue, said Scottish government ministers have a “legal responsibility” to prosecute a UWO in court.
When asked last month, Ms. Sturgeon said she had not read “in detail” the senior QC’s argument. She also claimed that all decisions on applications for a UWO are the responsibility of the Lord Advocate – the Chief Legal Officer of the Scottish Government.
Nick Flynn, Avaaz’s legal director, accused Ms. Sturgeon of “avoiding” questions about Trump’s holdings in Scotland for almost two years.
Last month, Scotland’s first minister insisted that Mr Trump would not visit the country to play golf during lockdown restrictions. “Getting into golf is not what I would consider an essential purpose,” said Ms. Sturgeon.