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Trump lawyers warn Panamanian gov't of violation in hotel case

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  • Mon, 04/09/2018 - 15:21
Organizacion Trump
  • EFE

Attorneys for the Trump Organization in Panama warned the Panamanian government of Juan Carlos Varela that the "irregularities" surrounding the organization's ouster from a capital hotel could affect the state because they are a "clear violation" of the prevailing bilateral treaty protecting investments.

Britton & Iglesias, which represents the Trump Organization in Panama, sent a letter to that effect to Varela, Vice President and Foreign Minister Isabel De Saint Malo and several government ministers, and it was published by the local daily La Prensa.

In the letter, the attorneys ask Varela "to urgently use his good offices regarding the Trump Hotel commercial dispute brought before the (Panamanian judiciary)."

The emblematic "Trump" name was removed from the hotel on March 5 after a Panamanian court ordered the organization belonging to US President Donald Trump to cease its management of the building - consisting of 70 floors and 250,000 square meters (2.7 million square feet) of floor space.

The Trump Organization has managed the hotel since it was opened in 2011.

The court order came after the building's new proprietor, the private Miami-based Ithaca Capital fund owned by Cypriot businessman Orestes Fintiklis, on Feb. 23 filed in Panama a complaint with prosecutors against several Trump Organization employees for refusing to surrender possession of the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower after he had terminated his relationship with the company.

In their letter, the organization's attorneys complained about the "excessive and unusual speed at the time of receiving, ruling on and implementing the ... (court's) measure" regarding the hotel, along with other "irregularities" that allowed "even changing the name of the hotel," which now is the Bahia Grand Panama.

The attorneys asked for Varela's good offices to "prevent these damages from being attributed to the opposing party, but rather (that they are attributed to) the Panamanian state by virtue of a clear violation of the protections of the treaty."

The legal team referred to the bilateral treaty protecting investments that has been in force between Panama and the US since 1983, according to the letter.

The Trump Organization and Ithaca are engaged in a bitter battle in US courts after the investment fund bought the hotel and the majority of the property's apartments in 2017 and decided to drop the Trump brand, citing mismanagement.

The Trump Organization challenged the decision, citing a contract signed with the original developer that gave it the right to manage the hotel until 2031.

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