Scottish lawmakers want to know where Trump — who was broke — got all that money

The Biggest Trump Financial Mystery? Where He Came Up With the Cash for His Scottish Resorts.
Donald Trump dumped $400 million into his clubs in Aberdeen and Turnberry. Now, lawmakers in Edinburgh want to investigate him for money laundering.

The self-proclaimed “king of debt” typically takes out large loans to finance the ventures he does bankroll. In this case, Trump’s company proceeded with the development on its own. And it says it paid for everything in cash.

Such was also the case for Turnberry, the historic golf resort, an hour south of Glasgow, that Trump purchased in 2014 for $60 million. His large expenditures in Scotland were notable because they came during a rocky financial stretch for Trump. The year before purchasing the Aberdeenshire estate, he was ousted as CEO of his thrice-bankrupted casino business; in 2008, he defaulted on a large Deutsche Bank loan tied to a development in Chicago.

Like other Trump wagers, his Scottish gamble has so far not worked out. Both resorts are bleeding millions annually. Meanwhile, he and his company have spent years viciously skirmishing with various locals and government agencies that resisted Trump’s plans to build luxury housing on the fringes of the resorts, which the Trump Organization seems to view as vital to profitability.

If business was lackluster before, it’s dismal now that the coronavirus pandemic has all but halted the Scottish golf season, at least as far as international travelers are concerned. To make matters worse, as Trump’s hospitality empire grapples with the fallout of COVID-19, it also faces a series of maturing debts, loans amounting to nearly a half-billion dollars, which need to be paid down or refinanced over the next four years.

Recently, a new—and perhaps bigger—threat to Trump has emerged in Scotland. Scottish lawmakers are pushing to peer into Trump’s finances using an anti-money-­laundering statute typically employed against kleptocrats, oligarchs, and crime kingpins. Their question: Where did the hundreds of millions Trump poured into his Scottish courses actually come from?