The saga over a £10bn Memorandum of Understanding between the Scottish Government and two Chinese construction giant has grown murkier and murkier by the day.
First – the deal wasn’t announced to the Scottish Press, only in China. That was revealed on Sunday and Willie took the Transport Minister to task about it on Monday’s Scotland 2016:
China Deal - Scotland 2016
Last night I was on Scotland 2016 with Keith Brown, asking questions about the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Scottish Government and two Chinese businesses.We all want to see investment come to Scotland and create new jobs. But there are serious questions the Scottish Government need to answer over what checks have been done on these companies, especially in light of today's revelations in the Herald.http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14403389.Sturgeon_s___10bn_deal_with_firm_owned_by__quot_grossly_corrupt_quot__Chinese_construction_giant/Posted by Willie Rennie on Tuesday, 5 April 2016
On Tuesday, it was revealed that the Norwegian Oil Fund had blacklisted the China Railway Group over allegations that there was “a risk that the company is involved in gross corruption”. Nicola Sturgeon refused to answer questions about what checks had been done before the memorandum was signed.
On Wednesday it was finally revealed that no checks, at all, had been done on either company and that the First Minister signed a so-called agreement of understanding with people that she didn’t know anything about.
Even the simplest checks would have revealed cause for concern
On Thursday, as the saga rumbled on and on, Willie Rennie called on the First Minister to scrap it and go back to the drawing board:
This whole process has been shrouded in secrecy since the start and it is clear that the proper due diligence was not done before the First Minister put pen to paper. We all want to see new investment coming to Scotland to support jobs and growth. But that should not mean ignoring allegations of graft and corruption.
And then, this morning (Friday) Sir Richard Heygate, SinoFortone and China Railway No.3 Engineering Group Co., Ltd’s UK advisor torpedoed even more holes in the SNP’s defence.
Nicola Sturgeon's claim that this was only the start of the discussions was contradicted by the representative of the two Chinese firms, who made it clear that there had been extensive discussions including on specific projects that could proceed as soon as this year.
This makes it even more surprising that no due diligence had been conducted or reference to the Norwegian report made. This saga gets murkier by the day.