Chances of a 'McMafia'-style investigation into Trump's Scottish golf courses are fading after a legal ruling

Chances of a 'McMafia'-style investigation into Trump's Scottish golf courses are fading after a legal ruling
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Donald Trump next to a person playing bagpipes.
Donald Trump at one of his Scottish properties.Getty
  • The chances of an inquiry into Donald Trump's Scottish golf courses receded after a legal ruling.

  • Advocates had argued that ministers should pursue a money-laundering investigation into Trump.

  • A judge ruled that ministers could delegate that responsibility, effectively ducking the decision.

The prospect of an investigation into Donald Trump's all-cash purchase of a Scottish golf course receded Thursday when a judge issued a legal ruling about so-called McMafia orders in Scotland.

Edinburgh's Court of Session had been considering the Scottish government's decision not to investigate Trump's 2014 purchase of Turnberry, the historic golf resort near Glasgow.

The advocacy group Avaaz brought the case after the Scottish government in February rejected calls to pursue an unexplained-wealth order against Trump.

UWOs give prosecutors the power to require people or organizations to explain how they acquired assets such as expensive property. They are known as McMafia orders in reference to the "McMafia" TV series about organized crime.

Avaaz argued that a "towering cloud of suspicion" hung over Trump's unusual all-cash purchase of Turnberry for $60 million in 2014.

The court on Thursday ruled that ministers did not have a duty to apply for unexplained-wealth orders against individuals.

Craig Sandison, the senior judge who issued the ruling, agreed with the Scottish government that ministers could delegate that responsibility to the lord advocate, Scotland's chief legal officer.

Dorothy Bain, the lord advocate, could still initiate a UWO against Trump, though to date she has made no signs she will.

The ruling means Nicola Sturgeon and other Scottish ministers will not be forced to decide one way or the other.

Avaaz said that Bain, who was appointed in June, should move to start the investigation.

"The law may have been clarified, but a cloud of suspicion still hangs over Trump's purchase of Turnberry," Nick Flynn, the legal director at Avaaz, said in a statement.

"By any measure, the threshold to pursue a UWO to investigate the purchase has easily been crossed.

"The Lord Advocate should take urgent action in the interest of the rule of law and transparency, and demand a clear explanation of where the $60m used to buy Turnberry came from."

Insider contacted the Scottish government for comment but did not immediately receive a reply.

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