Then-President Donald Trump in Scotland.
  • Scottish lawmakers and campaigners have been pushing for a probe into how Trump funded his Scottish golf resorts.
  • The Scottish government rejected the investigation - known as an Unexplained Wealth Order - in February.
  • But on Wednesday, a judge said a campaign group could appeal that rejection.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Scotland could pursue a "McMafia" investigation into former US President Donald Trump's Scottish golf courses after a judge heard that there were "real and substantial concerns" about the Trump Organization and its finances.

Opposition lawmakers in the Scottish Parliament and campaigners have been pushing since January for an investigation into how Trump funded the all-cash purchases of his two Scottish golf resorts, Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire.

Turnberry, the more expensive resort, cost more than R886 million in 2014, and Trump claimed to have spent another $150 million (around R2.2 billion) refurbishing it.

Campaigners have argued that the purchases were suspicious because Trump had previously financed his large-scale purchases with debt, before launching a $400 (around R6 billion) million cash spending spree to purchase both resorts.

In February, the Scottish government decided not to pursue an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) - also known as a "McMafia" order - against the Trump Organization. UWOs were introduced in the UK in 2018 to crack down on money laundering and have led, in some cases, to the confiscation of assets purchased using suspicious funds.

But on Wednesday, Lord Sandison of the Court of Session in Scotland gave permission for a judicial review to appeal the government's decision not to pursue the investigation.

"I grant permission for the petition to proceed without condition or restriction," he wrote.

The appeal was brought by the campaign group Avaaz.

The case is likely to be heard later this year at Scotland's High Court, and Avaaz hopes it could overturn the Scottish government's opposition to an UWO into the Trump Organization.

The attorney Kay Sprigham, who represented Avaaz during the permission hearing, had argued that ongoing criminal and civil investigations against the Trump Organization in New York were proof that the former president's business dealings in Scotland should be investigated, the Scotsman reported.

She said criminal charges filed in July against Allen Weisselberg - the Trump Organization's CFO who retains a leadership position at Trump's Turnberry resort - provided further grounds for investigation.

Scotland's parliament had rejected calls for an UWO in February after saying that only legal officers - rather than ministers - had the power to initiate such investigations. The vote was brought by the Scottish Green Party's co-leader Patrick Harvie and was defeated by 89 votes to 32.

At the time, Trump's son Eric dismissed the allegations made by Harvie against the Trump Organization and called him a "national embarrassment."

Insider has contacted the Scottish government and Trump Organization for comment.

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