Ruling upholds eviction of Trump Organization from Panama hotel for now

Posted on: March 29th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Control of a 70-story hotel tower along the Punta Pacifica Peninsula in Panama will remain out of the Trump Organization’s hands for now, according to a ruling by a Panamanian arbitrator.

A lawyer for the building’s majority owner, Orestes Fintiklis, hailed the ruling as a victory.

“It’s the end of the story,” Fintiklis’ lawyer, who asked not to be named as the matters are confidential, told ABC News Wednesday. “We win.”

But Alan Garten, general counsel of the Trump Organization, cautioned that the legal battle isn’t done yet, telling ABC News that the ruling is just preliminary and there’s still a long way to go in this case. Garten said the arbitration proceedings have only just begun.

The fractious battle between the Trump Organization and Fintiklis has at times required a police response over the past month.

Fintiklis went to court in Panama to gain support for his bid to evict the company run by President Donald Trump’s sons, which had naming rights for the building as well as a contract to run a hotel and some building operations there. Earlier this month, Trump employees and supporters of Fintiklis clashed repeatedly over control of the building. Police were ultimately called to carry out the eviction, for which Panamanian court officials were present.

The decision means the Trump Organization won’t manage the property for the time being, Fintiklis’ lawyer told ABC News. The company has also lost control over the property’s accounts, the lawyer said.

The iconic T-R-U-M-P signage was removed earlier this month and will not return, the lawyer said.

In a statement earlier this month, the Trump Organization vowed to continue to fight to maintain its position in the building.

“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 statement said.

Fintiklis has argued in documents filed in a U.S. court in Florida that the Trump Organization mismanaged the property, causing occupancy levels “to collapse” and expenses to “bloat.”

“[Operator’s] gross incompetence and deficient sales organization stands in the way of [the] owner making any profit on its investment, all the while lining the [Trump Organization’s] pockets,” he alleged in a court filing.

The ongoing dispute represents an early test for U.S. diplomats navigating international relations in places where the president’s family manages properties or conducts other business ventures.

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