May 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Human rights group petitions Scotland for probe into Trump's all-cash golf course buys

Trump cutting the ribbon to a golf course

Trump opens The Trump International Golf Links Course in 2012 in Balmedie, Scotland.

A global human rights group has filed a petition in Scotland's highest civil court seeking a judicial review of the government's refusal to investigate former President Trump's all-cash purchases of two golf courses, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: The probe would've sought details on the source of the money used to buy the golf courses in 2006 and 2014. The Scottish Parliament is facing increasing calls to investigate Trump as the New York attorney general's office pursues a criminal investigation into the Trump Organization.

Catch up quick: After decades of debt, Trump spent more than $300 million in cash on the two courses, neither of which have been profitable, per Reuters.

  • In February, the Scott Parliament voted 89-32 to reject the minority Scottish Green Party's motion to pursue an "unexplained wealth order" on Trump.
  • At the time, Justice Minister Humza Yousaf of the ruling Scottish National Party called Trump "deplorable" but said law enforcement should enact unexplained wealth orders, not politicians.
  • This order, which does not trigger a criminal proceeding, is aimed at helping authorities combat money laundering and target foreign officials' illegal wealth.
    • But if the government finds that the Trump Organization's money was not clean, it could "in theory" seize the properties, Reuters writes.

What they're saying: Avaaz's petition, delivered to the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Monday, alleges that the politicians who voted against the motion used a flawed legal interpretation.

  • The group argues that Scotland's ministers have sole responsibility to determine the need for an unexplained wealth order and cannot shirk that responsibility to anyone else.
    • It also argues that Trump's case meets the legal standard for issuing the order and that Scotland's politicians have failed to perform their duty.
  • "An unexplained wealth order would be a clear signal that business in Scotland must be transparent and accountable no matter the individual involved," Patrick Harvie, leader of the Greens, said in a statement to Reuters.

Worth noting: Trump has made five other all-cash purchases of golf properties outside of Scotland.

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