Martyn McLaughlin
Thu Nov 12 15:55:40 +0000 2020

Thread: there's been interesting discussion in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon about the use of Unexplained Wealth Orders to investigate Donald Trump's deals to acquire his Scottish properties and ascertain the sources of the financing 1/

.@patrickharvie said there is a need to "protect Scotland's good name from association with the toxic Trump brand" and highlighted "serious and long-standing concerns about Trump's business activities," both in Scotland and further afield 2/

Those concerns, he said, include evidence to Congress citing patterns of buying and selling thought suggestive of money laundering, and which drew particular attention to the golf courses in Scotland and Ireland. 3/

"The cause for concern is still growing," Mr Harvie told the parliament. "It's now reported that the Manhattan District Attorney's office is investigating the Trump Organisation's inflation of assets, and potential bank and insurance fraud." 4/

He added: "The Trump Organisation has been accused of repeatedly reporting fraudulent financial details to the US Office of Government Ethics, while reporting a different set of figures to the UK regulators in respect of the Trump golf courses here in Scotland." 5/

Turning to the issue of UWOs - he stressed that the Scottish Government is able to go to court and ask for an order so that it can "start getting answers," but said that so far, the government has refused to either confirm or deny that an investigation is underway. 6/

He added: "Now that Trump is set to lose immunity from prosecution in the US, he may finally be held to account there. Isn't it time that he's also held to account here? Isn't it time for answers from the Trump Organisation and for the Scottish Government to go to court?" 7/

Replying, First Minister @NicolaSturgeon said the decision on whether to pursue a UWO against Trump is one for prosecutors, not politicians - specifically, the Crown Office, which she said operated in a "right and proper" independent capacity from government ministers. 8/

She added: "I think everybody is prob well aware of my views about the soon to be former president, and my views are probably no different to ... many people across Scotland. The idea that I'd somehow try to protect him from due accountability I don't think holds much water." 9/

For what it's worth, my understanding of the UWO process is that it's the Scottish Government that can decide to go to court, under section 396A of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The legislation doesn't seem to leave much room for ambiguity: ends/

Scottish Greens UWO statement: "We can't continue to turn a blind eye to red flags that surround [Trump's] biz activities in Scotland, sending a signal to not just Trump himself but those who may be lured by our relaxed approach towards investigating possible financial crimes"

Here's my original story from February on the growing calls for the Scottish Govt to pursue an Unexplained Wealth Order to determine the source of the Trump Organisation's financing in Scotland:

Thu Nov 12 19:17:45 +0000 2020