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article imageTrump Organization taking legal action over Panama Hotel name change

By AFP     Mar 9, 2018 in Travel

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.

"The former Trump Ocean Club Hotel will be operated under the name 'The Bahia Grand Panama,' which is unaffiliated with the Trump brand as of March 5, 2018," Ithaca Capital Partners, of which Fintiklis is a managing partner, said in a statement Friday.

The statement added that the hotel is under new management, with its main goals to "safeguard the interests" of its 240 employees and owners of units within the hotel, along with honoring all previous and future commitments with clients and suppliers.

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

Donald Trump inaugurated the sail-shaped tower -- his first hotel in Latin America -- 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.

Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower  en un imagen tomada el 28 de febrero de 2018.
Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower, en un imagen tomada el 28 de febrero de 2018.
Rodrigo ARANGUA, AFP

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 to boot them out before its management contract was up, blaming the Trump name for a drop in business.

Panamanian prosecutors said in February 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.

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

The building, which stands at 284 meters (932 feet) high and cost $430 million, was the tallest building in Latin America when it first opened.

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