05. December 2012 · 4 comments · Categories: Trump

Donald Trump has criticised William Grant & Sons for awarding the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland “TopScot” award to Michael Forbes. Severin Carrell has the full story in the Guardian.

The full media release from Trump International Golf Links Scotland is available here.

It’s also 282 days since we launched campaign to have Donald Trump Sen, Donald Trump Jun. and George Sorial sacked as GlobalScots. You can sign the petition here.

NOTE:- the photograph is the only one I have ever taken that won an award. it was taken in the burn of my parents’ croft on the Isle of Skye in 2004.

27. November 2012 · Comments Off on How much has Donald Trump invested? · Categories: Environment, Land Use, Politics, Trump

I am very grateful to Ross McConell for helping me to interpret Trump Golf Club Scotland’s accounts.

(This post was originally published on 28 Feb 2012 and has been updated to include the 2011 Accounts)

Many claims have been made by Donald Trump over the amount of money he has invested in his golf course in Aberdeenshire. For example, in the Scotsman on 16 November 2011, Trump International Scotland’s executive vice president, Sarah Malone said that “We’ve spent well in excess of £50 million”. She goes on to claim that all the money is “Mr Trump’s own money”. Donald trump himself claimed in May 2010 that he had invested $60 million in the project.

How about we have a look at the facts?

The land is owned by Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd, (TIGCS) a company registered in Scotland No. SC292100 and with its registered office at 20 Castle Terrace, Edinburgh and incorporated on 21 October 2005. Accounts for the company have been lodged up until 31 December 2011 (see links at foot of this post). Over the 6 reported years:-

TIGCS has made operating losses totalling £3,909,419.

TIGCS has fixed assets of £20,155,690.

TIGCS has debts of £25,061,814 of which £24,333,162 is long term debt.

The accounts are abbreviated accounts in accordance with Section 444(3) of the Companies Act 2006. According to the accounts prepared up to and including 2008, the debts were owed to Mr Donald J Trump. In 2009 and 2010, no report is given of whether any of the Directors are creditors but it is understood that the long-term debt of the company is all owed to Mr Trump.

The published accounts confirm the following picture.

Menie Estate acquired for around £6.7 million

Investment in the golf course since then of £13,455,690.

Now personally, I do not regard the acquisition of the land as an investment in Scotland (it may be an investment for Mr Trump). It is merely a transfer payment to the previous owner in the USA. If I pop round to my neighbour’s house and hand over £500,000 to buy her vineyard in Languedoc, I have made no investment in France.

Interpret this as you will.

1) As of 31 December 2011, Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd. invested £13.4 million in the Menie golf resort since 2005. This is around one quarter of the figure provided by Sarah Malone in November 2011 and a third of the figure quoted by Trump back in May 2010.

2) If you include the land and operating losses, then Trump has invested £25 million.

Accounts 2006

Accounts 2007

Accounts 2008

Accounts 2009

Accounts 2010

Accounts 2011

 

Earlier this week Donald trump was calling for a revolution in the USA. His series of twitter rants are dissected here by the Guardian.

Today, his attention turned to Anthony Baxter, the Director of the globally acclaimed You’ve Been Trumped that was watched by 1.1 million viewers on the BBC last month.

Mr Trump has put a dot in front of @antbaxter which means these tweets are sen by the over 1.8 million people who follow Mr Trump (instead of only those who follow Trump AND Anthony Baxter).

If you want to see the complete set of Donald Trump Golf Channel clips in which he sacks his greenkeeper, stuffs $$$ in the pocket of his golf course architect and dishes out various other abuse, head over to menieconcerns and have a watch.

 

Day 223

Donald Trump Senior is (and remains) a GlobalScot

Donald Trump Junior is (and remains) a GlobalScot

George Sorial is (and remains) a GlobalScot

It was revealed today that the Scottish Government had asked Donald Trump to put his name to a statement supporting their decision to release Abdelbaset al-Megrah from prison in July 2009. I suspect Mr Trump was approached as he is a GlobalScot.

Last week, Donald Trump confirmed that he was planning a “massive lawsuit” against the Scottish Government and claimed that Alex Salmond had a “death wish for Scotland.”

Why is this man still a GlobalScot – a prestigious list of International Ambassadors for Scotland?

See Previous Posts in GlobalScot (particularly earliest one) outlining the scheme and with links to data list of all GlobalScots.

Further to my previous blog on the future prospects for Donald trump’s golf course (scroll down to see it), I am delighted to publish some photographs which illustrate Point 2 – that the Menie dunes will keep moving. These photographs were taken by Sue Edwards in December 2011 and show sand blown onto the tees of the 5th hole. These are of course quite minor blows but there have been 3 similar events this year alone.

This follows erosion at Hole 3 which has involved engineering works to stabilise the green. Interestingly, the works were undertaken partially on land below the High Water mark – land which Trump does not own. I am making inquiries about what the Crown Estate Commissioners know abut this. Further details about this incident can be seen in paras 31-37 of this MEMAG meeting of 11 April 2011.

Having taken a close interest in Donald Trump’s new golf course at Menie Estate, I have at times wondered whether, irrespective of the events of the past, it will be a success or not. Today, as the golf course is officially opened, I conclude that it will, in fact, be a failure. Here are the ten reasons why I reach that conclusion.

1. It’s in the wrong place

I am reliably informed that Donald Trump looked at “hundreds” of locations across the whole of the UK before deciding to build his new course at Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire. Among the sites examined was the 600ha brownfield site at the former Polkemmet Colliery in West Lothian. In the end, however, Trump was smitten by the “Great Dunes of Scotland” and failed to properly evaluate the full business case for alternative locations. Polkemmet would have been ideal for a Trump development. Planning consents were already in place for 2000 houses and 2 championship golf courses. It is extremely well located for the kind of golf tourism that Trump is promoting and has excellent transport links. The site is also capable of being moulded into any kind of shape desired. Donald Trump, however, was in pursuit of a vanity project and not a viable world class golf resort. The Menie dunes are magnificent but it is a poor place for a golf course of the scale envisioned by Trump.

2. The Menie dunes will keep moving

According to an authoritative report by Dr Jim Hansom, the undisturbed sand sheet at the southern end of the Foveran Links Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) was the “most extensive, dynamic and demonstrably systematic in its mode of transit of any such feature” in Great Britain. It has now been destroyed. Figures 13 and 14 in the Hansom report show the dunes’ migration northward by 550m since 1949.

Despite the destruction, the dunes system at Menie form an integral part of the Aberdeen Bay longshore sediment transport system. In other words, Mr Trump’s golf course is probably going to be subject to substantial periodic sandstorms which could bury whole greens or tees. Over time such disturbances will become too much to deal with and the golf course will be destroyed.

Just take a look at that bank of sand behind Mr Trump in the photograph above (oh and to his left, this green has collapsed into the sea (see paras 31-37 of this MEMAG meeting of 11 April 2011)

3. The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre will be consented

Although no decision has yet been made by Scottish Ministers, there appears no valid grounds for refusing to consent the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) in Aberdeen Bay. If this happens, Donald Trump has already said he will walk away from development of the hotel and houses. The golf course is not viable without them.

4. The Trump brand is now mud

Much of the anticipated success of the golf course relies on the so-called “Trump brand”. Divisive a figure though he is, this brand is still immensely valuable in the US. In Scotland, however, it is probably now irredeemably damaged due to Mr Trump’s actions in bullying and harrassing people and in his abysmal public relations (if you want to do business in a country it helps if you are polite to people). The north-east business community are the key cheerleaders for Trump as illustrated in this video clip. But the north-east business community is full square behind the EOWDC and, once that is approved and Trump storms off, his brand is worthless.

5. The course will never host a major golf tournament

Much has been made by Trump of his ambitions for Menie to host a major golf tournament. It is very unlikely that this will happen for at least three reasons.

Firstly, according to some golf experts I have spoken to, the course is too tricky and demanding to play. Whilst top golfers obviously need a severe test of skill, the margin of error needs to be contained (in other words, no true competition should leave too much down to chance). Trump has built a golf course with relatively confined fairways that would not look out of place in the USA – except he’s created it on the wild north east coast of Scotland.

Secondly, it is doubtful whether either the course and the local area could accommodate the sheer numbers of spectators, facilities and accommodation requirements of a major golf event. My understanding is that no evaluation of this has been done and so I could be proved wrong but sources tell me that it would prove quite challenging

Thirdly (and the most impotant factor) is that it is almost certain that at some point in the near future, major championship events will need to be acccredited by the Golf Environment Organisation (GEO) as a condition of hosting. Jonathan Smith, the CEO of GEO has stated that,

“The golf development at Menie Estate has been widely, and in our view rightly, criticised for causing avoidable environmental damage and social disruption. While its playing quality may well be extremely high, this is at the cost of considerable negative impact on what was one of the UK’s most valuable mobile sand dune systems.”

It is interesting to note the contrast between Menie and the Machrihanish Dunes course in Kintyre which was built entirely within an SSSI by a wealthy US businessman and was the first 18 hole course in the UK to achieve GEO certification. It shows what could have been done at Menie.

It is certain that Menie will not receive GEO certification. Given that all the premier golf courses in the UK are seeking such accreditation, it is hard to see how this will not become a requirement of any course that wishes to host a major.

6. The course will not be world-class

Trump places great faith that his golf course will be the best in the world. But during the masterplanning process in 2009, the architect, Gareth Hoskins concluded that it could not even be world class without the extra land that the local residents own and refuse to sell.

Obviously you can make it work within the available area … you know you can work around about it …. you know you can accommodate the residential, you can accommodate the resort. The championship course works. You can manipulate things to get round about them but if I’m asked, does this make it a world class development, the answer is quite emphatically no.” (1)

7. Trump will lose interest – it’s a vanity project

It is clear that this golf course – indeed the whole project is a vanity project, an ego trip for Mr Trump. The 7th reason is therefore that he will simpy lose interest.

8. The project is financially unsustainable

This assertion is merely that – an assertion. It is hard to see how this project will ever generate a return on the capital that has been invested and that is scheduled to be invested. Without a return, it is a drain on the pocket of Mr Trump. He may be happy with that but my feeling is that he will lose interest or walk away because of EOWDC and sell up.

9. The loss of key stakeholders

For any project of this nature to succeed, the key stakeholders need to be on board. This was the case at the beginning when local and national government and business interests gave the development their enthusiastic backing but Trump’s friends are a diminishing band. He has lost the Scottish Government. He will probably lose the local business community and Aberdeenshire Council will most likely get fed up.

10. It is too far away from Trump Tower, New York

For this project to succeed on Trump’s terms, he needs to maintain a close connection with it. Business ventures located far from the seat of power are the most vulnerable to any number of external shocks. I don’t think Trump International Golf Links Scotland will survive more than 5 years.

(1) Donald Trump’s Golf War by Midas Productions. First broadcast on BBC 2 Scotland 15 November 2010 at 39:16

There is a programme on Radio 4 called The Unbelievable Truth in which panellists compete to see how many nuggets of truth they are able to hide among their lies and as an example of the Alice in Wonderland world in which Donald Trump inhabits, consider this

“I am considered a world-class expert in tourism. When you ask, “Where is the expert and where is the evidence?” I say: I am the evidence.” (col 1344)

Following the appearance of Donald Trump and Trump organisation Executive Vice-President, George Sorial, at the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee of the Scottish Parliament on 25 April 2012, I can confirm that he repeated 3 of the 10 lies documented here and added one more. The Official Report of the Committee meeting is available here and the (Col xxxx) references are to column numbers from the report.

Lie 7

“I have invested tens of millions of pounds in my site on the North Sea coast.” (col 1342)

“Tens of millions” means at least £20 million. From the published accounts of Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd. to 31 December 2010, only £6,455,690 has been invested in addition to the £6,917,850 capital to acquire the land.

Lie 8

“By the time that I bought the land, I did not think that the wind farm would happen.” (col 1344)

“I felt confident by the time that I bought the land that the wind farm would not happen.” (col 1344)

“By the time that I bought, I felt secure and I felt secure for a period of time.” (col 1345-36)

As revealed in the 21 February 2006 “deal killer” email, Scottish Development International (SDI) were telling the Scottish Executive that their “client” was “about to conclude a deal within the next few days” and was seeking “an authoritative view as quickly as possible from the Scottish Executive on the wind farm proposal”. Donald Trump had acquired the bulk of Menie Estate for £4.498 million a month previously on 27 January 2006.

SDI can only have obtained these reported views from the Trump Organisation and I have today asked SDI to confirm the source of their information. But as things stand, Donald Trump misled the Committee by saying that by the time he had bought the land, he was confident that the EOWDC project “would not happen” if a month later he was desperately seeking assurances.

Under questioning by Patrick Harvie MSP, George Sorial reacted angrily to this allegation.

George Sorial: Mr Harvie asked about the e-mail from SDI. Why does he not ask SDI that question? It wrote the e-mail. The e-mail was not to us; it was from SDI to the Scottish Government. It is not reasonable for Mr Harvie to ask us to speculate on what SDI meant by what it said. That is absolutely ridiculous.” (col 1346)

Patrick Harvie: “On 21 February 2006, following discussions with yourselves, SDI wrote an e-mail that indicated that it was clearly under the impression that the deal would be completed in a few days.”(col 1346)

George Sorial: “That is hearsay. Were we copied in on that e-mail? It was an e-mail from SDI to the Scottish Government. Why would you even bring it up? It has no bearing on this hearing. That is ridiculous.” (col 1347)

Of course the email was SDI to the Scottish Government but the views reported were attributed to the Trump Organisation and it is patently ridiculous to suggest that they invented these views. Mr Sorial will be pleased to know that SDI have now been asked about the email. (see UPDATE)

Lie 9

In response to a line of questioning about a Visit Scotland poll on wind farms and tourism, Mr Trump replied,

“No one knows more about polls than I do; in fact, if you want to hear about polls, I had 93 per cent approval for my project when people were fighting me on it.” (1353)

Despite much repetition of this figure, Trump has never produced any evidence to substantiate the claim despite repeated requests to do so. This allegation will be withdrawn if he can prove it is true.

A new lie

There was one additional lie in Trump’s evidence. This was the claim that Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi

“was been seen running in the park last week” (col1355)

No comment.

UPDATE 23 NOVEMBER 2012

The Economy, Energy & Tourism Committee today published the report on its inquiry. Paragraph 288 notes that “While some strongly held localised and anecdotal opinion exists, the Committee has seen no empirical evidence which demonstrates that the tourism industry in Scotland will be adversely affected by the wider deployment of renewable energy projects, particularly onshore and offshore wind.”

In relation to the deal killer email, Scottish Development International replied to me in May 2012 to say that they do not have any information relating to the claims made in the email since “the author of the email advises, that to their recollection. much of the information was covered in telephone conversations and was not formally recorded.”

Picture of Michael Cohen

I resent spending time writing about Trump. But he continues to bully, harrass and lie as well as violating people’s human rights, breaching planning consents and generally running riot over the lives and democratic processes of Scotland. So what did we learn today?

We learnt that, contrary to all the bluster, Trump’s claims about promises, reassurances and deals were hot air. All he had were alleged comments from Jack McConnell and Alex Salmond as to the likelihood of an offshore wind energy test centre in Aberdeen Bay. We learnt that in October 2007, Trump had dinner with Salmond at a Scottish Development International event in New York at which Trump was led to believe that the EOWDC project was unlikely to obtain consent. Trump completely and utterly failed to understand that such opinions count for nothing. He only has himself to blame for what has happened since.

We learnt that he continues to lie – only this time it was to a Parliamentary Committee rather than to the press. For the record, he restated lies 2,7,8 and 9 of these ten lies of Donald Trump.

We also learnt that he will definitely not go ahead with his hotel and golf resort if the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) is granted consent.

We also learnt (though this be by deduction) that his objection to EOWDC is in fact simply an excuse to abandon his project.

Why?

Because George Sorial, his Executive Vice President and Counsel is on record as saying that,

“For this project to ever really be great, we need to have a hotel and I would challenge anyone to find a developer that would put a hotel on that site with some of the properties that are currently there in the states they are.” (1)

Trump’s delusion was to think that he could simply buy out the residents by offering them enough money. But they are made of sterner stuff.

We also learnt that Trump is now employing his New York “pit bull”, Michael Cohen who yesterday issued one of the resident’s with a “pass” to get in and out of her own home. He might care to know that under Scots law and under Human Rights legislation people in Scotland do not need Mr Trump’s permission to enter their own home. Indeed to attempt to hold anyone to ransom in this way is a criminal offence. In an interview with ABC, Cohen boasted,

“It means that if somebody does something Mr Trump doesn’t like, I do everythign in my power to resolve it to Mr trump’s benefit. If you do something wrong, I’m going to come at you, grab you by the neck and I’m not going to let you go until I’m finished.”

Charming.

Oh, and we also learnt that trump’s new friends in Communities Against Turbines Scotland are climate-change deniers.

And finally, Mr Trump Snr, Mr Trump Jnr and George Sorial are still GlobalScots.

Mr Trump, could you pleeeeeeease do us all a favour and get tae…

NOTES

(1) Donald Trump’s Golf War by Midas Productions. First broadcast on BBC 2 Scotland 15 november 2010 at 46:46