Donald Trump has come under fire in Scotland for allegedly laundering Russian money to build or buy golf courses at Menie estate in Aberdeenshire in 2012 and Turnberry golf resort in Ayrshire in 2014.
A push is on in Parliament urging Scotland’s first minister to file an “unexplained wealth order” that would force Trump to detail how he paid for the golf courses.
An unexplained wealth order (UWO) can be issued by a UK court to compel someone to reveal the sources of their assets.
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie is heading the effort into possible money laundering involving some of the president’s business deals, according to the BBC.
Eric Trump, speaking on behalf of the Trump Organization, blasted the allegations, calling them “reckless, irresponsible and unbecoming for a member of the Scottish Parliament.”
Sarah Malone, executive vice president of Trump International, Scotland, called the allegations “utterly baseless and malicious.”
But it’s undisputed that Trump paid cash for the two properties at a time when virtually ever bank in the world was refusing to lend money to the Trump Organization.
Harvie said yesterday (Feb. 27) the purchase of Menie and the Turnberry golf resort were part of Trump’s “huge cash spending spree in the midst of a global financial crisis.”
Harvie said that the [US] House of Representatives had heard testimony about “patterns of buying and selling that were suggestive of money laundering,” with particular concern expressed about Mr Trump’s golf courses in Scotland and Ireland.
“Trump’s known sources of income don’t explain where the money came from for these huge cash transactions,” he said. “There are reasonable grounds for suspecting that his lawfully obtained income was insufficient.”
The UMO, he said, is “a tool designed for precisely these kinds of situations.”
The orders can be issued by the courts to compel their target to reveal the source of funding, and are often used to tackle suspected international money laundering, according to the BBC.
The Turnberry golf course prompted a U.S. House of Representatives hearing in September after it was reported that U.S. Air Force flights were diverted to an airport near the course, which was used to house U.S. servicemen.
The Glasgow Prestwick Airport near the course is not a regular stop for military flights. The airport is viewed as integral to the golf course’s financial success.
Late Rep. Elijah Cummings and Rep. Jamie Raskin raised questions about the relationship in a June letter to the Pentagon.
“Given the president’s continued financial stake in his Scotland golf courses, these reports raise questions about the president’s potential receipt of U.S. or foreign government emoluments, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, and raise other serious conflict of interest concerns,” the June 21 letter stated.
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform claimed the Pentagon was stonewalling its probe of military sleepovers at President Trump’s Scottish golf resort, NBC News reported.
Harvie said seeking the order would “make it clear that Scotland is not a country where anyone with the money can buy whatever land and property they want, no questions asked.”
Trump reportedly paid $60 million for the Turnberry property, then sunk as much as $200 million more into renovations and new construction, adding a new course, rehabbing an old one, and fixing up the lodgings.
But since then, The Turnberry has been losing an astonishing amount of money, including $23 million dollars in 2016, according to The New Yorker magazine.
In the nine years before he ran for President, the Trump Organization spent more than $400 million dollars in cash on new properties—including 14 transactions paid in full, according to The Washington Post.
In 2008, Donald Trump Jr. bragged the Trump Organization was being fueled by tens of millions of dollars from Russia.
“In terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump Jr. said during a conference.
He has since denied the remark.