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”.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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
Previous articles on the Trump golf courses