Police Scotland has launched an investigation into potential criminality involving fundraising by the Scottish National Party.
The force says it has opened a formal probe and is asking for assistance into the matter, which is centered around allegations that £600,000 of SNP funds raised by activists has ‘gone missing’.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police Scotland has now received seven complaints in relation to donations that were made to the Scottish National Party. After assessment and consultation with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, we will now carry out an investigation.
“Enquiries are continuing and anyone who has any information which may assist with this investigation is asked to contact police.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously rejected the allegations.
She said last month that she is “not concerned” about the finances of the party, insisting that every penny raised to support the campaign for independence would go towards that campaign.
She said: “Money hasn’t gone missing. All money goes through the SNP accounts independently and fully audited.
“We don’t hold separate accounts, we’re under no legal requirement to do that, our accounts are managed on a cash-flow basis, but every penny we raise to support the campaign for independence will be spent on the campaign for independence.”
Police Scotland previously stated that a fraud allegation relating to the funds was “still being assessed to determine if an investigation is required”.
But a formal investigation into potential criminality is now under way.
Joanna Cherry announced in June that she would be resigning from the SNP’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), having said that a “number of factors” had prevented her from fulfilling the mandate given to her by party members to improve transparency and scrutiny.
It followed the resignations of Douglas Chapman as party treasurer and Marco Biagi, a former minister, from his role heading up the SNP’s independence task force.
An SNP spokesperson said: “We will cooperate fully with any investigation. As we have made clear, all sums raised for independence campaigning will be spent on independence campaigning.”
Scottish Conservative chief whip Stephen Kerr said the SNP “have failed to be fully transparent over this funding for months”.
He said: “Senior figures have resigned from the party’s executive committee over the matter but the SNP leadership have still not addressed these serious claims.
“The public to deserve to know the truth. It is only right that Police Scotland are stepping up their investigations having received numerous complaints.
“The police must be allowed to explore every aspect of these complaints to ensure they get to the bottom of this increasingly murky situation.”