THE FIRST Minister has been urged to use her powers to investigate investments in Scotland made by soon-to-be former US president, Donald Trump.
The Scottish Greens have launched a campaign to put pressure on the Scottish Government to seek an unexplained wealth order (UWO) on Trump International’s acquisition of Turnberry.
Speaking in Holyrood on Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon said a probe like this would need to be initiated by the Crown Office – though the Greens dispute that.
The party says the recent publication of Trump’s tax records in the US raises serious questions about his spending in Scotland.
Those records, obtained by the New York Times, revealed that Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016.
In 10 of the previous 15 years, he paid no income tax at all, because, according to his records, he lost more money than he made.
That includes in 2014 when Trump bought over Turnberry for £35m cash.
There are questions too over loans made to his golf courses. Golf Recreation Scotland Limited owes £115m to a New York-based state grantor trust called the Donald J Trump Revocable Trust.
The American Democracy Legal Fund has specifically requested that the FBI “open an investigation into apparent inconsistencies, misstatements, and lies in President Trump’s annual financial disclosure filings regarding loans to, and the profit margins of, his golf courses in the UK and Ireland”, and have documented their concerns in detail in a letter to the Bureau.
Green co-convenor Patrick Harvie raised the issue at First Minister’s Questions.
He said: “The Trump Organization 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.
“The Scottish Government is able to go to court and ask for an unexplained wealth order to start getting answers. So far it has refused to either confirm or deny that an investigation is even underway. So 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 that time for answers from the Trump Organization and for the Scottish Government to go to court and seek those answers?”
The First Minister told Harvie: “I think everybody is probably well aware about my views of the soon-to-be former president of the United States and my views are probably no different to Patrick Harvie’s and to many people across Scotland.
“So the idea that I would somehow try to protect him from due accountability in Scotland, I don’t think it holds much water.
“In terms of unexplained wealth orders, Patrick Harvie and I have had these exchanges before in the chamber. Decisions around that are not for ministers, they are for the Crown Office and on matters like this the Crown Office operates independently of Scottish ministers and I think that is right and proper.”