Nicola Sturgeon “misled” the Scottish Parliament when she said her government couldn’t launch a money laundering probe against Donald Trump.
The Court of Session has heard how the SNP administration was asked last year to investigate how the Trump Organisation managed to obtain the funding for the Menie golf course in Aberdeenshire in 2006 and the Turnberry resort in Ayrshire in 2014.
Yesterday Aidan O’Neill QC, who represents international human rights group Avaaz, told judge Lord Sandison that Ms Sturgeon didn’t understand the law on a form of investigation called ‘unexplained wealth orders,’ which is how the government would be able to investigate Mr Trump’s finances.
Ms Sturgeon informed the Scottish Parliament that the government couldn’t launch such a probe and that the responsibility for the investigation lay with the Crown Office’s Civil Recovery Unit.
However, Mr O’Neill told the court that Ms Sturgeon said the Civil Recovery Unit was politically independent from the Scottish government, but her government’s position later changed. He said the then Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf then announced that the law did allow for the government to begin its inquiry.
The Scottish Green Party first called for an ‘unexplained wealth order’ in February over concerns about how Mr Trump had managed to finance the purchases. Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie claimed Mr Trump’s unusual pattern of spending and the ongoing civil and criminal cases in the US provided Scottish authorities with sufficient grounds for investigation.
Mr O’Neill is asking for a judicial review in an attempt to overturn the Scottish government’s refusal to begin proceedings against Mr Trump. He said:
“Strangely, the First Minister didn’t understand the law and misled Parliament on that point.”