Donald Trump’s financial interests in Scotland should be investigated now that he is set to lose immunity from prosecution in the US, the Scottish Greens have argued.
Ministers have been urged to seek an unexplained wealth order (UWO) on Trump International’s acquisition of the Turnberry golf resort in Ayrshire after Mr Trump was defeated by Democrat Joe Biden in last week’s presidential election.
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie accused the Scottish Government of remaining silent about the possibility of seeking a UWO since he first called for one in February, and the party has now launched a campaign calling for ministers to act.
Mr Harvie said the Trump Organisation had been accused of reporting fraudulent financial details to the US Office of Government Ethics, while reporting different figures to UK regulators in respect of the Trump golf courses in Aberdeenshire and Ayrshire.
He said further evidence was also being considered at Congress relating to allegedly irregular patterns of buying and selling and it has been reported that the Manhattan district attorney’s office is investigating allegations related to insurance fraud.
Mr Harvie put the call for further action directly to Nicola Sturgeon during a session of first minister’s questions on Thursday, and insisted Scotland’s good name needed to be protected “from association with the toxic Trump brand”.
He said: “I called for the Scottish Government to seek an unexplained wealth order into Donald Trump’s purchase of Turnberry in February. Since then, concerns about his business activities in the States have grown.
“Now that Trump is set to lose immunity from prosecution in the US, he may finally be held to account there.
“It is surely time that he is also held to account here. Surely, it’s time for answers from the Trump Organisation, and time for the Scottish Government to finally go to court and seek those answers?”
Who has power to investigate?
The first minister said her views on the soon-to-be former president were well known and the idea that she would somehow protect him from “due accountability” in Scotland does not “hold much water”.
Ms Sturgeon said decisions around UWO are for the Crown Office, independent of Scottish ministers, and any further details would need to come from the Lord Advocate.
However, the Scottish Greens believe the Scottish Government could seek a UWO as a civil matter and point to a report by the US-based non-profit organisation Avaaz, which states Section 396A of the relevant Act gives ministers such powers.
Mr Harvie also called on the Scottish Government to take action to build public confidence and maximise vaccine take-up in the face of the rise of online conspiracy groups linked to Covid denial.
He said: “Online conspiracies are gaining an audience in Scotland – conspiracies linked to Covid denial, anti-vaccine myths, as well as climate denial and other far right ideologies very similar to the movement Trump cultivated.
“We cannot allow them to disrupt public health efforts.”
Ms Sturgeon said the scenario set out by Patrick Harvie presents a “very real risk in the public health and Covid context in particular but, as he says, more widely to our democracy”.
She added: “I think all of us should guard against buying into conspiracy theories on the internet or anywhere else, and on Covid that is obviously particularly important.”
Trump International has been approached for comment.