Panama: Trump hotel standoff ends as president surrenders physical control
07 March, 2018, 11:44
The company run by U.S. President Donald Trump's sons held a long-term contract to manage the property in Panama City, its only hotel venture in Latin America.
At one point in the days following the incident, matters took such an ugly turn that Trump Organization security and hotel officials were seen fighting within the building in leaked footage.
For its part, the Trump Organization said Mr Fintiklis was breaching his contractual commitments.
"Today, this dispute has been settled by the judges and the authorities of this country", Fintiklis told reporters.
In February, Fintiklis filed a legal complaint to fire the organization and alleged that it had improperly destroyed documents, the AP reported.
"Based upon the merits, Trump Hotels remains fully confident that it will not only prevail, but recover all of its damages, costs and attorneys' fees, including those damages, costs and attorneys' fees arising from today's events", the organization said. For the past week, this 70-story building in Panama's capital - created to resemble a billowing sail - has been the scene of shoving matches between rival security guards, repeated visits by police, power outages, and reports of documents being shredded.
"This was purely a commercial dispute that just spun out of control", said Orestes Fintiklis, a private equity investor and the head of the hotel's owners' association, shortly before entering the hotel management's offices.
The owners of the hotel property had paid at least $32 million to use the Trump brand, according to the AP.
But according to lawyers of the Trump Organization, the underlying dispute had not be settled by the Panamanian courts. Or as a spokesperson for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) told Business Insider, "When the president refused to divest from his businesses, there was always the fear that there would be some sort of incident at one of his overseas entities, and his judgment and loyalty could be tested".
Mr Fintiklis, majority owner of the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower, hailed the court's decision, saying: "Panama has made us proud".
The Trump organization said Fintiklis resorted to "mob style tactics" by repeatedly attempting to "infiltrate and disrupt its computer systems and threatening and intimidating any employee of the Hotel that resisted".
In court filings, the Trump Organization called Fintiklis' effort a "design to wrongfully seize control over the hotel property".
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