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Lord Sanderson

Friday’s Letter from America

This Letter from America was originally scheduled for publication in August, it follows the revelations published here about a crucial decision from Scotland’s Court of Sessions, by Lord Sanderson. It is a US perspective of Mr Trump and his relationship with certain timeshare moguls, just like the story of his involvement in Scotland, it does not paint a very good picture. This article also briefly shows the efforts and role of the “Regulators” in the U.S. So it ties in with another article published this week. For those of you who are not familiar with the “Timeshare Mogul” named, click on the YouTube link and watch the Queen of Versailles, you will then ask yourself the question, “Is this where my money has gone?”

Trump and Timeshare

By Irene Parker

U.S. names like Trump and Biden are not mentioned in polite company without jeopardizing relationships with friends and family. There are many reasons to like or dislike both named politicians, but those on the side of consumer timeshare protection have reason to question former President Trump’s biased stance on timeshare sales and marketing practices.

Charles reported earlier this week on questionable lending as pertaining to the Trump Organization’s acquisition of the Turnberry Resort and golf course in Scotland. A look back to what happened in 2016 provides some political timeshare history.


Pictured left front Westgate owner David Siegel

Pictured above is candidate Trump in 2016 on the stump. Westgate owner David Siegel of Queen of Versailles fame is seated to Mr Trump‘s right. The Queen of Versailles documentary describes the couple’s 90,000 square foot Orlando home that includes Mrs Siegle’s 5,500 square foot clothes closet. The documentary took Best Director at Sundance some years back.

I have no objection to great wealth, but a number of Westgate owners have reached out to me or our volunteers, unable to exit their timeshare. Some have debilitating and chronic health conditions. One couple, the husband, age 90, was forced to default on their timeshare week because Westgate objected to their paying their broker his $800 commission after the broker had found a buyer offering $500. I know of no honest timeshare resale broker (those who charge no upfront money to list a timeshare for sale) that will accept a listing for Westgate units because it is written into the contract that Westgate is entitled to 50% of the commission.

The  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the federal agency in the U.S. that seeks to protect consumers, along with the Federal Trade Commission. The CFPB in 2016 fined Wells Fargo $100 million when agents opened unauthorized accounts to reach performance goals and compensation incentives.

Westgate underwent a two-year investigation concerning sales and marketing practices. According to Buzzfeed News, Diamond Resorts was the next likely candidate to come under CFPB scrutiny. Not only was the Westgate investigation dropped almost immediately after the 2016 presidential election, the CFPB was all but dismantled.

REGULATORS ARE LOOKING INTO AMERICA’S LARGEST TIMESHARE SELLER March 18, 2016

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/matthewzeitlin/financial-regulators-are-looking-into-americas-largest-times

According to the CFPB’s civil investigative demand (CID), the Westgate investigation looked into possible violations by salespeople involved in “the sale and financing of timeshares engaged in, or are engaging in, acts or practices in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act, the Fair Debt Collection Act, the Electronic Funds Transfer Act and the Fair Credit Billing Act.

Where is the CFPB today?

WASHINGTON, D.C.The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today issued a report highlighting legal violations identified by the Bureau’s examinations in 2020. The report also highlights prior CFPB supervisory findings that led to public enforcement actions in 2020 resulting in more than $124 million in consumer remediation and civil money penalties. June 29, 2021

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-report-highlights-supervisory-findings-of-wide-ranging-violations-of-law-in-2020

Anyone who is unable to resolve their dispute, after reaching out to their timeshare company, and feels they experienced unfair and deceptive practices, should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the state Attorney General where the contract was signed, and the Better Business Bureau. It is only because of a volume of complaints that Timeshare Sales appeared at #7 on the FTC’s list of Top Ten Scams at $17.4 million and Timeshare Resales (We have a buyer for your timeshare scams) #10 at $12.5 million.

https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2020/ftc-top-scams.html

Inside Timeshare will say this again, there is nothing wrong with the concept of timeshare, for some, it is a good option and suits their vacation needs, but as always it is the way it is sold and managed. The consumer is just the proverbial “Cash Cow” to be milked of their cash by the greed of the industry.

Inside Timeshare welcomes your views on this subject, Inside Timeshare can see many similarities in what is happening in the timeshare world, not just in Europe but in the US, Canada, Australia and elsewhere. Eventually what happens in one place will happen elsewhere, it is an international problem, so we invite you to use our contact page or just leave a comment. Have a great weekend.

Scotland: Judge Gives Green Light to Investigate Donald Trump

Welcome back to Inside Timeshare after a rather long absence, we begin today with some news from 11 August, where it appears that former President of the US, Donald Trump may now face an investigation into his purchase at Turnberry. This as we know is the site of his famous golf course which has been the subject of many protests and legal challenges by locals.

The human rights group, Avaaz, is a US-based nonprofit organisation that was launched in January 2007. The Guardian newspaper has dubbed them as “the globe’s largest and most powerful online activist network”.

https://secure.avaaz.org/page/en/about/

On 21 May 2021, Avaaz filed a petition with Scotland’s Court of Sessions, Lord Sanderson, granted permission to proceed with a judicial review “without condition or restriction”. At the time, it was expected to start later this year, with a decision expected in six to eight months. If the ruling was in favour of Avaaz, the Scottish Government may be forced to take some kind of action against Trump.

The ruling has now been made, this means Scottish Ministers under First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, will now be challenged and questioned in the courts over their ongoing failure to seek an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) and investigate the “suspicious” purchase by Trump of the Turnberry site.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotlands First Minister

During the hearing, Advocate Aiden O’Neill QC, (Queens Counsel), explained to Judge Lord Sanderson, that Ms Sturgeon did not understand the law about the form of investigation of the UWO.

The Court of Session, also heard how the Holyrood Administration, (Scottish Government), had been asked over a year ago to investigate how the Trump Organisation was able to pay for the golf course developments in Scotland.

Calls for an investigation have been called for by Opposition Lawmakers in the Scottish Parliament and other campaigners over the past few years. Trump funded the purchases of his two golf resorts, Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire, these were all-cash purchases.

Trump in Scotland

Turnberry, which is the most expensive resort, cost well over $60 million and it is believed that a further $150 million was spent to refurbish it. (According to Trump himself). According to campaigners, who have argued that the purchases were “suspicious” as Trump financed the large-scale purchases with debt. This was before purchasing both resorts in a spending spree of over $400 million.

It was only in February this year that the Scottish Government decided not to pursue the UWO, this is also known as a McMafia order. These UWOs were first introduced in the UK in 2018 and are designed to crack down on money laundering. In some cases under these orders, they have led to the confiscation of assets purchased using suspicious funds. So this does not look good for Trump.

This ruling could force the former president to explain how he funded the deals and where the money came from. This also does not bode well for him as his financial and tax dealings have been under scrutiny in the US. As president, he was, in a way protected, but now the gates are open and he certainly has a lot of explaining to do.

According to Nick Flynn, legal director of Avaaz, “If you don’t think there is reasonable suspicion over these purchases then I don’t think you’ve been paying attention”.

Nick Flynn

The Aberdeen golf course at Belmedie was purchased in 2006, but the focus of attention has been on the more prestigious resort at Turnberry, apparently at the time of purchase in 2014, it was a time he was reporting substantial losses on his income tax returns. It should also be pointed out that none of the Scottish properties have turned a profit.

In another twist, it is alleged that Eric Trump once stated that most of the company’s financing in those years came from Russia. But he has since then claimed the golf course investments came from company funds. Trump himself has denied that it was financed with Russian money. The plot certainly thickens.

Eric Trump

After the hearing, Sarah Malone, who is the Executive Vice President of Trump International Scotland, described the call for an investigation as “political game-playing at its worst and a terrible waste of taxpayer’s money which further damages Scotland’s reputation as a serious country to invest in and do business”.

In our opinion, that is total rubbish, we believe that the Scottish people have been duped and with the connivance of the Scottish Government. This investigation should go ahead and end this sorry tale once and for all, Inside Timeshare will certainly be keeping an eye on this story.

PDF of Lord Sanderson’s opinion

Links to various news publications

https://secure.avaaz.org/page/en/media/pressreleases/1018.html

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/aug/11/scottish-judge-permits-legal-case-over-trumps-golf-course-spending

https://www.insider.co.uk/news/judge-approves-legal-challenge-investigate-24742476

https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/nicola-sturgeon-misled-parliament-over-donald-trump-probe-court-told-3307800

https://www.forbes.com/sites/oliverwilliams1/2021/08/11/scotland-could-investigate-trump-for-money-laundering/?sh=40db6141725d

https://www.businessinsider.com/scotland-could-pursue-money-laundering-investigation-trump-golf-courses-2021-8

Previous articles on the Trump golf courses

https://insidetimeshare.com/breaking-news-trumps-aberdeenshire-golf-resort-hits-the-headlines/

https://insidetimeshare.com/attorneys-general-timeshare-trump/

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/23/donald-trump-faces-wall-of-opposition-as-he-returns-to-scotland