Report: Scottish Lawmakers Want Trump Investigated For Money Laundering

Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at the official grand opening of Trump Turnberry.Screengrab / SNS Group / YouTube

JakeThomas

"You don’t have to sniff the air very long to see there’s something that smells.”

In February, a group of Scottish Parliament members set about arguing that President Donald Trump should be investigated for money laundering, according to Mother Jones.

  • The probe would fall under the UK’s Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO), which is “designed to make inquiries into the finances of ‘politically exposed persons’ suspected of money laundering,” the outlet reported.

Patrick Harvie, a Scottish Parliament member and co-leader of Scotland’s Green Party, has led the campaign for a UWO against Trump. “This is not someone who inspires confidence in sound finances and sound business,” he says. “The fact that there are many allegations floating around that the US authorities have investigated, whether it’s in relation to Russia or his political dealings domestically—you don’t have to sniff the air very long to see there’s something that smells.”

Harvie cited a report by Avaaz, a global nonprofit activist group, that has been key to the campaign. It highlights Trump’s assoc­iation with people scrutinized by US law enforcement for illicit financial transactions, including Paul Manafort, his campaign chair who was convicted of tax and bank fraud, and Michael Cohen, who was sent to prison for campaign finance crimes committed on Trump’s behalf.

“Without more information from Mr. Trump, there is reasonable doubt that his income during the time of Turnberry’s purchase and renovation would have been sufficient to cover all of these expenditures,” the report concludes.

  • Mother Jones noted that Trump purchased Turnberry in 2014 and the Aberdeen golf resort in 2006, during a period of financial struggles, and both properties have lost millions annually in the time since.

His large expenditures in Scotland were notable because they came during a rocky financial stretch for Trump. The year before purchasing the Aberdeenshire estate, he was ousted as CEO of his thrice-bankrupted casino business; in 2008, he defaulted on a large Deutsche Bank loan tied to a development in Chicago.

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The size of Trump’s wealth is a source of great debate, but two things are fairly well known—the period between 2006 and 2014 included some of his lowest points, financially speaking, and even in the best of times, the amount he splurged in Scotland would be a ton of cash for him to have on hand, let alone spend so freely. And Trump made these Scottish investments amid a $400 million cash spending spree, documented by the Washington Post, in which he also purchased a golf club in Ireland, five courses in the United States, and several pricy homes.

  • Martyn McLaughlin, a Glasgow-based reporter for the Scotsman newspaper, said: “The abiding mystery is why Mr. Trump and his companies seem to relish in spending exorbitant amounts of money and losing exorbitant amounts of money here. Given all the difficulties the Trump Organization has had, why is it so determined to throw more money at it?”
  • McLaughlin also revealed in July that the Trump Organization “had quietly drawn up plans for an even more ambitious expansion—one that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars” after his initial proposal to build a golf community at Turnberry was rejected last year.
  • And in Aberdeenshire, officials have “approved Trump’s plan to begin building a second course along with luxury homes and ‘five-star hotel cottages’” at a cost of $200 million, according to Trump.

Dubbed the Trump Estate, promotional materials show rows of quaint dwellings crowded along elaborately landscaped lanes. Homes range in price from about $370,000 for a two-bedroom cottage to $1.6 million for a five-bedroom mansion.

But with revenues so low, the money needed to complete the project—let alone a major development at Turnberry—may be hard for the Trumps to come by. McLaughlin also says he doesn’t understand how luxury homes in an out-of-the-way region of Scotland, known for blustery North Sea winds and offshore oil, make sense.

  • McLaughlin said: “Quite how they’ll have a viable business scheme out of that, I’m not sure. Who pays hundreds of thousands of pounds for a family villa in the northeast of Scotland that’s got the corrosive brand of Trump attached to it?”
  • He added that prospective buyers who turned up at an open house last year seemed mostly foreign: “Which raises the question, Who is investing? Who is giving money to the president’s company? It’s the most explicit opportunity to put money into the Trump Organization in return for property.”

Read the full report.

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