Trump foreign business dealings attract scrutiny as New York probe heats up

As the New York attorney general’s criminal investigation into the Trump Organization heats up, former President Donald Trump’s business empire is facing further scrutiny in Scotland while scrubbing longtime Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg’s name from corporate filings across the globe.

The former president promised a firewall between his business and his public office, but he broke that promise and accumulated 3,403 conflicts of interest, including visits to his properties by foreign government officials, taxpayer spending at his businesses, and Trump’s own blatant promotions of the businesses.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) tracked at least two conflicts of interest per day, but that is likely only the tip of the iceberg.

Weisselberg is facing a 15-count indictment against him and the Trump Organization in New York, but the Washington Post reported he’s likely to remain employed by the Trump Organization. However, Weisselberg may have been removed from corporate filings to avoid scrutiny from “regulators, lenders, or vendors.”

In Scotland, Weisselberg’s name was removed from Trump’s Aberdeen golf club last week. But Weisselberg is still listed as a “person with significant control” over Golf Recreation Scotland, the parent company of Trump’s Turnberry resort, as of July 20. The other person with significant control is Donald Trump Jr., while Trump’s other adult son, Eric Trump, remains the sole director of the company.

The Trump Turnberry golf club generated around $100 million in income reported by Trump during his time in the White House, making it the biggest revenue generator of Trump’s properties during his presidency.

Trump’s other Scottish golf club in Aberdeenshire is operated through Trump International Golf Links, which also removed Weisselberg’s name from corporate records last week.

Trump reported more than $16.5 million in income from the Aberdeenshire golf resort through Trump International Golf Links Scotland since 2016, substantially less than Turnberry but more than many other foreign businesses. Overall, Trump reported bringing in more than $134 million from his businesses in Scotland since 2016.

While Trump’s properties in Scotland may seem lucrative since personal financial disclosures show him personally raking in more income from them than businesses in any other foreign country, Trump’s Scottish businesses are also some of his biggest money-losers, according to records reveiwed by OpenSecrets.

Corporate records on file with the U.K. government show the two Scottish golf clubs losing millions of dollars each year and relying heavily on loans from Trump.

In 2006, Trump bought the land for the Aberdeenshire course for $12.6 million in cash and has loaned the golf club another $58.6 million in the last 15 years. In 2014, Trump bought Turnberry for $68 million and has reported loaning it $150 million since the initial purchase.

Last week, Scotland’s Court of Session — the supreme civil court of Scotland — heard arguments in a judicial review of the Scottish government’s decision against investigating purported discrepancies in Trump’s financial reporting and the two golf club purchases.

The Scottish Green Party and international human rights group Avaaz called for an “unexplained wealth” order in February amid questions about how Trump financed the purchases of the Scottish courses. The groups claimed Trump’s “unusual” pattern of spending and the ongoing legal issues in the U.S. gives Scottish authorities grounds to investigate.

Following statements from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s leader, claiming that decisions on “unexplained wealth” orders should be made by law enforcement officials, Scotland’s Parliament voted against a proposal to urge an investigation into the finances of Trump’s Scottish golf courses.

The U.K. government introduced the “unexplained wealth” orders in 2018 to help investigations into money laundering and other criminal financial activity with the goal of keeping international criminals from making large investments in Scotland with “dirty money.”

Eric Trump claims the allegations have “no basis in fact”.

The former president released a statement over the weekend expressing disappointment that the149th British Open Championship took place in Kent, England, claiming “the greatest site and course of all for The Open is Turnberry, in Scotland,” which the Trump Organization has owned since 2014. After the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, British Open organizers announced they will not hold the golf tournament at Trump Turnberry “for the foreseeable future.”

The golf tournament was last held at Turnberry in 2009, prior to Trump’s 2014 purchase, though the Scotland golf club hosted the Women’s British Open in 2015.

Like Trump’s Scottish golf clubs, Trump’s business in Ireland is similarly among the top revenue generators reported in financial disclosures but has reported millions in losses each year. Trump’s golf club in Doonbeg, Ireland, generated more than $69.8 million in revenue for him since 2016, OpenSecrets’ analysis found.

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