Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP today called on the Scottish Government to come clean and admit a controversial Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with a Chinese firm tied to allegations of corruption is dead in the water.
Mr Rennie was speaking after answers to parliamentary questions revealed that SNP Ministers appear to have cut ties with the Chinese firm. The MoU was signed by the First Minister in March. Days later, it emerged that one of the parties was a wholly owned subsidiary of a firm who had been blacklisted by the Norwegian oil fund as a result of the risk of gross corruption.
It was later reported that the same company had been identified by Amnesty International as involved in human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Commenting, Mr Rennie said:
"This new information shows that bungling SNP ministers were just weeks away from trashing Scotland's reputation for a few Chinese Yuan. They signed a deal with a Chinese company without asking basic questions and only moved to cut ties once the Liberal Democrats, Amnesty International and others rang the alarm bell.
"The parliamentary answers reveal that ministers have not spoken to the company since questions were raised. The public information also shows and that ministers only recently bothered to ask the Norwegian oil fund and Amnesty International what they knew about CR3's ties to corruption and human rights abuses.
"This is an staggering level of incompetence. Ministers asked few questions before signing a multi-billion pound agreement. It now looks like they scrabbled to cut ties when they were faced with the truth. The SNP need to be up front with Scots, admit they made a big mistake and confirm that the memorandum of understanding is dead in the water."