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Panama Hotel Removes Trump's Name
07 March 2018, 11:44 | Damon Campbell
Trump Organization out at branded hotel and tower in Panama City
Orestes Fintiklis, who has filed suit in both the USA and Panama, alleged that "gross incompetence" on the part of the Trump Organization was hurting the tower's overall business.
It added that the spat will ultimately be settled by an arbitration panel under the International Chamber of Commerce.
After a protracted, unusual standoff over the status of the hotel, its majority owner, Orestes Fintiklis, managing director of Ithaca Capital Partners, has taken control of the property and unceremoniously removed the Trump Hotels name from its facade.
As part of his fire sale purchase of 202 of the hotel's 369 units, Fintiklis signed a February 2017 agreement not to challenge Trump's management contract - a deal that Trump Organizations consider binding.
A legal battle began last fall with Ithaca Capital claiming in a lawsuit that the hotel had "steadily been losing market share and stands in last place among its peer luxury hotels in all the relevant metrics for success in the hotel industry".
President Donald Trump's name, emblazoned outside the hotel, was removed from the property.
These words are not to be taken lightly-the Trump Organization's management team has shown that it is not willing to vacate the property without a fight.
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"This is a purely commercial dispute that just spun out of control", Mr. Fintiklis said in a brief impromptu news conference in the hotel's lobby.
In recent weeks, physical confrontations between Fintiklis and Trump staff at the hotel began.
Now, the Trump Hotels brand operates 11 properties in its portfolio after hotels in Toronto and NY similarly voted to step away from the brand recently.
The ownership dispute at the property has been punctuated by yelling and shoving matches, appearances by armed police officers and visits by government delegations, including Panamanian labor regulators, forensic specialists and a justice of the peace.
Trump Hotels last week accused Mr Fintiklis of "fraud" and using "mafia-style tactics" to force its administration staff out of the disputed building.
While Trump staffed up with additional security - stationing guards at the hotel's administrative offices for more than one week - the fight for physical control of the hotel ended quietly with the intervention by Panamanian authorities. At least one Trump security official was taken off the property in handcuffs, though a police source told the AP he was not arrested. Though Fintiklis has generally declined to comment on the dispute, he appeared to gloat Monday.
The dispute had spilled out into the open last week with Fintiklis, the majority owner of the hotel, arriving at the lobby of the building with associates.
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