Trump Organization taking legal action over Panama Hotel name change


Panama City (AFP)

The Trump Organization is taking legal action over the name change of a luxury hotel it used to manage in Panama -- as it remains entangled in a complex battle with the new owner, who removed Trump's name from the facade of the building.

On March 5 the letters T-R-U-M-P were pried from the front of the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower, located in an exclusive area of Panama City.

Cypriot businessman Orestes Fintiklis, the majority owner of the complex -- which he renamed "The Bahia Grand" -- said that Panamanian authorities gave him permission to remove the Trump organization from the hotel's administration.

However the Trump Organization denied the existence of such an order, and insisted that they were authorized to manage the hotel while the dispute with Fintiklis was resolved.

"In view of irregularities committed by the judicial administrator," the Trump Organization said, "we are taking legal action to not only restore the Trump name to the hotel but to also receive compensation for the damages that these abusive and legal actions are causing."

The sail-shaped tower was Trump's first hotel in Latin America. Donald Trump inaugurated the hotel in 2011 with then-Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli, who is currently in on bail in Miami fighting extradition to Panama.

The 72-floor building has more than 1,000 rooms, along with apartments, a casino, shops, a spa and even a small private beach.

The hotel and most of the apartments were bought last year by Miami-based Fintiklis, managing partner of Ithaca Capital Partners.

As part of the sale agreement, the Trump Organization would continue to manage the hotel, but in lawsuits lodged in the United States, Fintiklis tried boot them out before its management contract was up, blaming the Trump name for a drop in business.

Panamanian prosecutors in February said they were opening an investigation into the case following complaints by Fintiklis that he had been prevented from entering the building.

The dispute will be mediated by the International Chamber of Commerce.

Trump Hotels last week accused Fintiklis and his team of using "mafia-style tactics" to control the building.

The building, which stands at 284 meters high and cost $430 million, was the tallest building in Latin America when it opened in 2011.