A judge will allow an activist group to challenge Scottish ministers over their failure to use the “McMafia law” to delve into the mystery funds Donald Trump used to purchase one of his Scottish golf courses.
Judge Lord Sandison ruled Wednesday that the case brought by the global activist organization Avaaz can proceed, citing the “general and continuing public importance of the legal questions raised” in determining the source of Trump’s cash.
“Scottish ministers have been turning a blind eye to the cloud of suspicion hanging over Trump Turnberry for far too long,” Nick Flynn, legal director of the U.S.-based group, said in a statement hailing the decision.
Avaaz will argue that an Unexplained Wealth Order must be filed against the Trump Organization to determine the source of funds used to buy Turnberry, the golf course Trump bought for $60 million in 2014. Trump purchased the resort — and land in Aberdeenshire in 2006 — in all-cash transactions at a time when he was seriously strapped for money and couldn’t find banks willing to lend him funds.
The UWO was created by what’s known as Scotland’s “McMafia law” as a way to probe financial crimes typically employed by mobsters, like money-laundering.
Trump’s Scottish resorts have yet to turn a declared profit and, in fact, lost about $75 million over eight years through 2019, according to the Trump Organization. They haven’t paid a cent in taxes to the Scottish government, and even collected some $800,000 in COVID-19 subsidies from British taxpayers.
The arrangement has raised suspicions that the Turnberry course and Trump’s Aberdeenshire club could be money-laundering operations — or as The New Yorker’s business writer Adam Davidson has called them, “money disappearing” operations.
Trump is the creditor for his own businesses, which means payment for many of the resorts’ costs flow right back to the Trump Organization.
Trump “owns the asset, lends the money, owes the money, is owed the money,” Davidson explained. “Every year, Trump lends millions to himself, spends all that money on something, and claims the asset is worth all the money he spent.”
The Avaaz win means Scottish ministers will now be “challenged in court over their ongoing failure to seek an Unexplained Wealth Order to investigate Trump’s suspicious Turnberry purchase,” Flynn said in the statement. “We hope that Ministers agree that Trump’s purchase demands the transparency that only a UWO can bring. Scotland’s reputation for upholding the rule of law and combating money laundering depends on it.”
The Trump Organization could not immediately be reached for comment.