President Donald Trump’s company’s golf courses should be investigated through a so-called “McMafia order”, a rule that allows investigations into suspected financial crimes committed in Scotland, according to legal counsel representing campaigners.
The argument to look into the Trump Organization’s purchases of the golf clubs in Aberdeenshire and Ayrshire is partly based on the current investigation into the same company by prosecutors in New York. In Scotland, the case is being put forward by Avaaz, a group that seeks to tackle global corruption.
"It’s evident from the matters set out in the petition that there are real and substantial concerns about financial arrangements of the Trump Organization, of which Mr. Trump is the sole or principal owner," Kay Springham QC said in a virtual hearing.
Ms Springham requested the judge permit the government at Holyrood to issue an “Unexplained Wealth Order”, which has been nicknamed the “McMafia order”. This is a new measure that was brought about in 2018 and was designed to give better understanding of suspected money laundering and other financial crimes.
Ms Springham went on to highlight that prosecutors in Manhattan had indicted The Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg, its long-serving chief financial officer, on tax fraud charges.
These were filed last month against the two parties and, in total, there were 15 counts. Among these included accusations that Mr Weisselberg had not paid taxes on income totalling $1.7 million. Both parties pleaded not guilty to all counts.
Ms Springham cited Mr Weisselberg’s professional involvement with the Trump Organization’s two golf courses in Scotland. According to documents from Companies House, he was removed from his position at Trump International Golf Club Scotland, one of the holding companies. However, according to other Companies House documents, Mr Weisselberg is still listed as a “person of significant control” alongside Donald Trump Jr at Golf Recreation Scotland, a separate holding company.
An Unexplained Wealth Order may be needed for both President Donald and Mr Weisselberg, Ms Springham outlined during the hearing.
“It’s evident from the matters set out in the petition that there are real and substantial concerns about the financial arrangements of the Trump Organization, of which Mr Trump is the sole or principal owner,” she said.
This hearing comes after Patrick Harvie, the leader of the Scottish Green Party and Member of the Scottish Parliament pushed to use the McMafia rule to gauge how the Trump Organization afforded its buying the two golf courses upfront.
According to an Avaaz report, the two golf courses were bought between 2006 and 2014 for $400 million, labelling it “a cash buying spree”.
The Independent has reached out to the Trump Organization for comment.