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Money laundering probes into Trump’s Scottish golf courses now possible

Trump Organisation’s purchase of Scottish golf courses now open to probing alongside other financial crime news stories in Napier's weekly news roundup.

Napier AI
August 13, 2021

Trump Organisation’s cash purchase of Scottish golf courses can now be probed

On Wednesday, Scotland’s Court of Session ruled that an investigation into the Trump Organisation’s financing of two Aberdeenshire golf resorts may go ahead after all.

The ruling means that a judicial review of the Scottish Government’s decision in February not to pursue an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) into the purchases is permitted.

UWOs, nicknamed ‘McMafia’ orders, were implemented by the UK Home Office in 2018 to target money laundering through the UK’s economic system and the illicit wealth of corrupt foreign officials. Ex US president Trump bought and developed his golf resorts from 2006 to 2014 for over $300 (£217) million, allegedly with mostly borrowed cash. Should the probe go forward, and the Trump Organisation cannot satisfy the courts that the funds used were legitimate, the properties could theoretically be confiscated, which has a precedent.

The successful appeal against the Scottish Government’s February decision was brought by global human rights group, Avaaz. In delivering his judgement, Lord Sandison noted that the review had “real prospects of success” and that “there was a sensible legal argument to be had on the matters raised.”

The Trump Organisation also faced fraud charges in New York last month.

Read more on this story in the Business Insider.

Home Office commissions research into wildlife-related financial crime

The research project will support the commitments made by the UK government at June’s G7 Leaders’ Summit, where one of the core objectives agreed upon was “tackling climate change and preserving the planet’s biodiversity.”

The research, which will be undertaken by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), will be key to improving the UK’s response to financial crime and money laundering linked to the trafficking of wildlife and animal parts. It will focus on how illicit cash flows from wildlife crime affect the UK, analyse the UK government’s current responses to these flows, and identify opportunities to build on current efforts. Public-private partnerships, engagement with civil society, and cooperation with G7 partners will be integral to the project.

Costing the global economy over $200million (£145m) annually (estimated) and affecting countries all over the world, the position taken on wildlife crime at the G7 Leaders’ summit is encouraging for environmental law enforcement worldwide.  

RUSI will present its recommendations at next month’s G7 Interior Ministers’ Meeting, followed by the publication of a detailed UK-specific report in October.

Read more on this story in the Police Professional.

Financial Conduct Authority’s annual report says 1,046 whistle-blowers reported 2,754 alleged financial crimes

The UK’s financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), released their annual report and accounts 2020-21 last month, which noted that 1,046 whistleblowers reported 2,754 alleged offences - down from 1,100 whistleblowers for the 2019-20 period.  

184 entities were investigated in 2020-21 for unauthorised activities, and £189.8 million in fines were issued. The is also the first time that the FCA has assessed and reported on the AML processes of cryptocurrency businesses for a full financial year.  In June, the FCA  warned businesses in the cryptocurrency sector that rates of compliance with regulatory requirements were very low.

Other highlights of the report include:

  • 150 reports led to FCA action, of which 15 reports entailed ‘significant action’
  • 145 cases were useful to the FCA’s work, while 97 cases were dismissed as irrelevant
  • 654 cases were still under investigation when the report was published

Read more on this story at FT Advisor.

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