Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP today called on the Scottish Government to give an urgent statement to Parliament over its controversial agreement with two Chinese firms, describing ministers as having been “duped” after reports discredited the credentials of SinoFortone.
Mr Rennie, who has led the scrutiny of the Scottish Government on the memorandum of understanding signed last spring, said a statement is needed after revelations surfaced in The Times today that almost all SinoFortone’s deals have either failed to progress or fell apart soon after they were agreed. Their only successful investment was in a pub.
It was reported that the company has not registered any accounts since it was established. Its website has been taken down and questions surround its apparent London headquarters which has no record of their existence.
Commenting Mr Rennie said:
“These latest revelations show that the SNP has failed at every turn on this alleged multi-billion pound deal. They failed to check out these Chinese companies’ human rights and corruption records, failed to make the deal public and now we see they were in fact duped by men with knighthoods and sharp suits who owned a pub.
“Ministers and their officials had eight separate discussions with SinoFortone and concluded that they were a “serious and credible” company. However their UK agent has now described the company as ‘all bollocks’.
“This shambles has left the reputation of Cabinet Secretary Keith Brown in tatters and he must answer questions as to how he thought SinoFortone was a ‘credible company’.
“The Scottish Liberal Democrats led the scrutiny of this deal at Parliament, rightly stopping it in its tracks. The SNP accused us of scaring the investment away but, in reality, their naivety has seriously damaged Scotland’s standing as a place to do ethical and intelligent business.
“Ministers must return to Parliament immediately to account for this latest revelation in what has become a sorry episode.”