Scotland’s MSPs are set to vote on whether Nicola Sturgeon’s government should order an investigation into Donald Trump’s Scottish golf resorts.
The opposition-led vote at the Scottish parliament is aimed at pressuring the first minister to seek an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO), amid concerns about the financing behind the Trump Organisation’s resorts.
A UWO is a legal mechanism obtained from the courts aimed at compelling those suspected of serious financial corruption – including potential money laundering – to explain the source of their wealth.
Wednesday’s opposition debate has been called by the Scottish Greens co-convenor Patrick Harvie, who said it was time to shed some light on the “shadowy” business dealings of Trump.
The MSPs said there were “evidenced concerns” surrounding the Trump Organisation’s purchases of the Turnberry golf course in Ayrshire, and the purchase of land for its course in Balmedie, Aberdeenshire.
“The Scottish government has tried to avoid the question of investigating Donald Trump’s wealth for far too long,” Harvie told The Scotsman. “There are serious concerns about how he financed the cash purchases of his Scottish golf courses, but no investigation has ever taken place.”
He added: “That’s why I’m bringing this vote to parliament. The government must seek an unexplained wealth order to shine a light on Trump’s shadowy dealings.”
The vote held after Wednesday’s debate will be non-binding – but could put more pressure on Sturgeon and her ministers to act on repeated calls to investigate.
Aidan O’Neill QC, who has prepared legal advice for the activist group Avaaz campaigning on the issue, said the Scottish government ministers had a “legal responsibility” to pursue a UWO with the courts.
Asked about the matter last month, Sturgeon said she had not read the senior QC’s argument “in detail”. She also claimed any decisions around applications for a UWO were the responsibility of the Lord Advocate – the chief legal officer of the Scottish government.
Nick Flynn, Avaaz’s legal director, accused Sturgeon of “avoiding” questions around Trump’s holdings in Scotland for nearly two years.
Last month Scotland’s first minister insisted Trump would not be welcome to visit the country to play golf during lockdown restrictions. “Coming to play golf is not what I would consider being an essential purpose,” said Sturgeon.