Trump's Scottish golf courses could face 'unexplained wealth order' as legal challenge seeks investigation into their all-cash funding

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Scottish lawmakers have questioned how Donald Trump bought two golf courses in cash, given his debts. Getty

  • A legal challenge seeks an investigation into Trump’s cash purchases of two Scottish golf courses.

  • Scottish lawmakers have questioned how the courses were paid for in cash given Trump’s debts.

  • It could force the government to seek an unexplained wealth order, with the power to seize the courses.

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Donald Trump faces fresh scrutiny over how he financed the all-cash purchases of his two Scottish golf courses, as a legal challenge filed this week attempts to force the Scottish government to launch an official investigation.

The challenge, filed by the human-rights group Avaaz, specifically seeks to force the government to reverse its decision not to investigate the courses’ funding. An investigation could ultimately lead to the seizure of the courses if their funding could not be satisfactorily explained.

The Scottish Green Party first called for an “unexplained wealth order” in February amid questions about how Trump had managed to finance the purchases of the courses at Turnberry near Glasgow in 2014 and at Menie in Aberdeenshire in 2006.

The UK government introduced the orders in 2018 to help investigations into money laundering and other criminal financial activity. They can in extreme circumstances result in the confiscation of illegally acquired UK assets, though such an outcome is rare.

Patrick Harvie, the Greens co-leader, has said Trump’s unusual pattern of spending and the ongoing civil and criminal inquiries into Trump’s financial conduct in the United States provided grounds for an investigation.

“The purchase of Menie and the Turnberry golf resort were part of Trump’s huge cash spending spree in the midst of a global financial crisis,” Harvie told Scottish Parliament in February.

Trump spent a large part of his career acquiring real estate using borrowed money and described himself in interviews as the “king of debt.”

But he acquired his two Scottish golf resorts using only cash and has spent at least $300 million developing them.

Trump’s golf courses lose millions of dollars every year, raising further questions about their funding.

Scottish ministers opposed the petition for an unexplained wealth order in February, saying that law officers, not politicians, should approve or reject the introduction of the orders.

Avaaz filed its petition on Monday in Scotland’s Court of Session seeking a review of the government’s decision not to investigate and arguing that lawmakers had misinterpreted the law by refusing to investigate, Reuters reported.

It argued that Scotland’s ministers, not its law officers, were responsible for determining whether such investigations should proceed.

If the court agrees with Avaaz, the Scottish government could agree to proceed with an unexplained wealth order or seek to reject the ruling.

The Scottish government and the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

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