Donald Trump Faces Wealth Investigation Over Purchase of Golf Courses

A court has granted permission for campaigners to seek a judicial review of the Scottish Government's refusal to investigate Donald Trump's unexplained wealth amid ongoing calls to scrutinize how the former president was able to purchase two golf resorts in the country.

A petition set was set up by U.S.-based non-profit activism organization Avaaz to pursue a Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) against Trump—a court order issued by a British court to force an individual to reveal sources of their finances, also known as a "McMafia" order.

Politicians and campaigners have called for an investigation into how Trump funded the all-cash purchases of his two Scottish golf resorts of Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire.

Trump had spent more than than $300 million (£217m) in buying and developing the resorts.

In February, the Scottish parliament rejected a call for the government to investigate how Trump funded the purchase of the golf courses by a vote of 89 to 32.

Donald Trump faces wealth investigation over golf
Donald Trump, with wife Melania and son Barron watching the British Open in Scotland, where the former president is being investigated for the purchase of two golf resorts. Getty Images

The petition from Avaaz argued that there are "no reasonable grounds" to suspect that known sources of lawfully obtained income would have been sufficient to pay for Trump's acquisition of the golf courses.

The move was granted by Lord Sandison of the Court of Session in Scotland, ruling that there was a "sensible legal argument to be had" on the matters raised by the petition and he grants "permission for the petition to proceed without condition or restriction."

In a statement to Newsweek, Nick Flynn, Legal Director at Avaaz, said: "Today's win means Scottish Ministers will now be challenged in court over their ongoing failure to seek an Unexplained Wealth Order to investigate Trump's suspicious Turnberry purchase.

"Armed with a proper understanding of the law, we hope that Ministers agree that Trump's purchase demands the transparency that only a UWO can bring. Scotland's reputation for upholding the rule of law and combating money laundering depends on it."

UWOs were introduced in 2018 as a way to crack down on foreign officials suspected of corruption who may potentially laundering stolen money through the U.K.

They are very rarely used, but may pave the way for assets to be seized if the subject of the order cannot explain the source of their wealth.

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie, who brought the UWO motion to Scotland's parliament, has praised the decision from the judge.

"I'm glad we are a step forward in getting some clarity over why Trump's business dealings in Scotland haven't been investigated," he told The Scotsman.

"It should never have got to the stage of a legal challenge from an NGO for the Scottish Government to confirm or deny whether they will seek a 'McMafia' order."

Harvie has been a long time critic of Trump, previously describing him as an "untrustworthy, dishonest, racist, conspiracy theorist" who Scotland should not associate with, reported Reuters.

Ahead of February's vote in Scotland's parliament, Trump's son Eric Trump said Harvie was "nothing more than a national embarrassment with his pathetic antics that only serve himself and his political agenda."

The Trump Organization has been contacted for comment.

trump golf scotland
Donald Trump plays a round of golf after the opening of The Trump International Golf Links Course on July 10, 2012 in Balmedie, Scotland. Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Correction 8/12/21, 4 a.m. E.T.: This article was updated to remove the errant referral to Eric Trump as Donald Trump's eldest son.