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Trump faces new legal setback in the fight to hide Scottish golf course money laundering

Trump faces new legal setback in the fight to hide Scottish golf course money laundering

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Donald Trump’s legal problems just got a whole lot worse after Scotland’s highest court ruled that Avaaz, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization, can pursue a legal review of how the disgraced former American president came up with the $300 million in funds to purchase his two golf resorts in the country, Turnberry in Ayrshire and Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire.

The ruling comes after a similar call from members of Scotland’s Green party for Trump’s financing of his properties in this section of the United Kingdom to be investigated using a “McMafia” order, the colloquial name for an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) typically used to investigate organized crime figures.

Despite the high purchase price and the fact that neither of the two resorts has yet to turn a profit in the many years since Trump acquired them, the Scottish Parliament rejected the Green’s proposal to launch a UWO probe earlier this year, saying that such investigations needed to be initiated through law enforcement authorities.

“There must not be political interference in the enforcement of the law,” Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said at the time.

After reviewing Avaaz’s petition to revisit Parliament’s decision, the judge in the case decided that the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 actually requires the government to launch UWO investigations when the evidence warrants it.

Avaaz’s argument in its petition was that the evidence showed that there are “no reasonable grounds” to believe that “known sources of lawfully obtained income would have been sufficient to bankroll Mr. Trump’s acquisition of his Scottish properties.”

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The ruling won’t immediately mean that a “McMafia” probe will be launched immediately.

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Instead, as Nick Flynn, legal director at Avaaz, said:

“Today’s win means Scottish ministers will now be challenged in court over their ongoing failure to seek an UWO to investigate Trump’s suspicious Turnberry purchase,” Flynn explained.

“Armed with a proper understanding of the law, we hope that ministers agree that Trump’s purchase demands the transparency that only a UWO can bring. Ministers have been turning a blind eye to the cloud of suspicion hanging over Trump Turnberry for far too long.”

Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie, who brought the original motion for a UWO inquiry back in February, said:

“I’m glad we are a step forward in getting some clarity over why Trump’s business dealings in Scotland haven’t been investigated. It should never have got to the stage of a legal challenge from an NGO for the Scottish Government to confirm or deny whether they will seek a McMafia order.

“Scotland’s reputation is at stake, and it is entirely within the powers of ministers to defend it. An unexplained wealth order would be a clear signal that business in Scotland must be transparent and accountable, no matter the individual involved.”

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If Avaaz is successful in its next round of court proceedings, the world may soon find out the real sources of the funds that Trump used to buy his Scottish properties and whether any of the money used in the purchases came from laundered sources.

While the Trump Organization has denied using outside financing to fund their Scottish properties, Eric Trump may now be regretting his candor when he told a writer back in 2014 “Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia” and “We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time.’”

No wonder Donald Trump has been busy seeking copious political donations from his legions of deluded followers. If the UWO probe goes forward, it will add considerably to his legal costs as he is already facing active investigations by New York prosecutors over his tax filings and business practices and by Georgia prosecutors over his alleged attempts to interfere with the vote tallying process in that state during the 2020 presidential election.

Add in the potential fallout from the predicted findings of the House of Representatives’ select committee on the January 6th insurrection, and Donald Trump is going to need every dollar he has for his legal defense.

It couldn’t happen to a more deserving fellow.

Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter. 

Original reporting by Kirsteen Paterson at The National and by Martyn McLaughlin at The Scotsman.

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