Trump name stripped from Panama hotel in property dispute
Panama City (AFP)
The owner of the Trump Hotel in Panama City said Monday he had succeeded in expelling the management company of the US president's family from the building.
Cypriot businessman Orestes Fintiklis, who owns a majority of the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama, said it was "a commercial dispute that just spun out of control, and today this dispute has been settled by the judges and the authorities in this country."
Workers removed the Trump logo from the entrance to the luxury complex, where police had been deployed earlier in the day.
"Today Panama has showcased stable institutions, rule of law and investor-friendly legal framework," said Fintiklis in a brief statement to the press.
The row erupted last month when Fintiklis, a Miami-based investor who last year became owner of the majority of units in the building through a company he controls, said he wanted to boot the Trump Organization out before its management contract was up, remove the Trump name and rebrand the building.
In lawsuits lodged in the United States, Fintiklis alleged a decline in occupancy in the hotel. The Trump Organization hit back, claiming Fintiklis was breaching his contractual commitments as owner.
Fintiklis complained to the Panamanian prosecutors' office that Trump Organization employees were barring him access to the units he owns in the sail-shaped complex, which also boasts a casino, shops, a spa and a small private beach.
The complex was inaugurated in 2011 by Trump and Panama's president at the time, Ricardo Martinelli. Martinelli is currently on bail in Miami fighting extradition to Panama, where he is charged with corruption and spying.
The hotel and the majority of the apartments were sold last year to Fintiklis' Ithaca Capital Partners, which is based in Miami.
As part of the deal, the administration of the hotel remained in the hands of the Trump Organization, run by the president's two sons since he took office last year.
Trump Hotels last week accused Fintiklis of "fraud" and using "mafia-style tactics" to force its administration staff out of the disputed building.
There have been reports of physical confrontations between the new owner and his team and the Trump administration staff.
Last month, Panamanian prosecutors announced they were opening an investigation into the case following complaints by Fintiklis that he had been prevented from entering the building.
© 2018 AFP