‘Government needs to be open about £10bn Chinese deal’

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon signs the memorandum of understanding with representatives of SinoFortone and Sir Richard Heygate
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon signs the memorandum of understanding with representatives of SinoFortone and Sir Richard Heygate
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Councillors are calling for First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to publish details of talks the Scottish Government has held with Chinese firms.

The call comes after it was revealed Falkirk Council officers were approached last year by China Railway No 3 Engineering Group (CR3) and Sinofortone to build 1000 houses in the district through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) it signed with the Scottish Government – worth a potential £10 billion in Scotland’s infrastructure.

The council originally refused to meet with the company’s agents, but agreed to after the government intervened.

Following the meeting, the council turned down a deal on the grounds that procurement laws could be breached and that because the pre-fabricated homes would have been made in China, local tradesmen and companies would have missed out on work.

Leader of Falkirk Council Councillor Craig Martin is now asking for the First Minister to publish details of talks between the Scottish Government and the Chinese companies.

He said: “The First Minister said there were no proposals and that talks were at a very early stage, but our officers discussed specific plans about housing with the Scottish Government and one of the companies.”

“People were told there weren’t any details about specific projects but it’s clear there is. Nicola Sturgeon needs to publish any documents or information the government has related to this MoU to be open and transparent.”

The Scottish Government say the MoU with Sinofortone and CR3 is to explore investment opportunities in Scotland and no deals or agreements have been made.

A spokesman said: “The Scottish Government would not enter into any deal that broke procurement rules or disadvantaged the Scottish economy.”

The CR3 company is also embroiled in a European scandal as its parent company is blacklisted by Norway’s oil fund, due to “gross corruption” allegations.

The spokesman added: “As the MoU does not involve any legal, contractual or funding obligation or commitment, full due diligence was not necessary. If the MoU was to result in a specific investment agreement, due diligence would be taken forward in the normal way.”

To view the MoU, click here