A judge in Scotland has cleared the way for ministers there to use the so-called “McMafia Law” to investigate the source of Donald Trump’s financing of his Scottish golf and hotel resorts.
Avaaz, a U.S.-based non-profit activism organization, had petitioned Scotland’s highest court to compel ministers to pursue an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) against Trump and his Scottish firms. A UWO allows authorities to target suspected corrupt foreign officials who have potentially laundered stolen money through the United Kingdom. If the suspected officials – in this case Trump – can’t prove a legitimate source for their wealth, authorities can seize the properties in question.
The twice-impeached, one-term former president went on a buying spree in Scotland beginning in 2006, spending $13 million to purchase land for a new golf course resort in Aberdeenshire and another $50 million developing the property. In 2014 Trump paid $60 million to purchase the historic Turnberry golf resort, which is about an hour south of Glasgow. He then spent about $200 million renovating the property.
For decades Trump highly leveraged his property purchases by borrowing, proudly referring to himself as the “king of debt.” What attracted scrutiny in Scotland is that in both cases he paid cash – more than $300 million total. None of his Scottish properties has turned a profit, nor have they paid anything in corporation taxes.
In its petition to the court Avaaz stated that there are “no reasonable grounds” to suspect that “known sources of lawfully obtained income would have been sufficient to bankroll Mr. Trump’s acquisition of his Scottish properties.”
The period between 2006 and 2014 represents one of the lowest points, financially, for Trump, yet he still managed to buy the properties in Scotland, a golf course in Ireland, five additional courses in the United States and several expensive homes. Most of those purchases were cash deals.