- The lengthy standoff between the Trump Organisation and a Panamanian hotel owner came to an end Monday.
- Panamanian authorities reportedly ruled that the hotel owner could take control of the hotel’s administration.
- Trump Organisation security abandoned the property.
A 12-day standoff between the Trump Organisation and a Panamanian hotel owner at President Donald Trump’s namesake Panama hotel ended – for now – on Monday after Trump business officials were ousted from the luxury building by local authorities.
The Associated Press reported that the owner of that Trump Panama hotel took control of the property on Monday, escorted into the building by police officers and a Panamanian judicial official. Trump Organisation security officials, which had engaged in the standoff for nearly two weeks, abandoned the property.
Video emerged of a worker taking off the Trump name from a hotel sign:
— ABC News (@ABC) March 5, 2018
The dispute broke out into the open last week when Orestes Fintiklis, the majority owner of the hotel, arrived in the lobby of the building with associates. His aim was to oust the Trump Organisation, which has managed the hotel since its 2011 opening. The Trump Organisation, however, refused to leave.
In the days since, police had been called to the property multiple times to “keep the peace,” the AP reported. Meanwhile, after Fintiklis and his associates hand-delivered termination notices to Trump Organisation employees at the hotel, witnesses told the AP that they saw Trump executives moving files to a room, where they would be shredded.
The Trump Organisation said in a statement that it was “fully confident” it would prevail in the dispute.
“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 organisation said.
The situation grew so bad that footage leaked of Trump Organisation security and hotel officials fighting within the building. Ethics experts fear that the standoff presents Trump with one of his most consequential conflicts of interest as president.
“As long as President Trump refuses to divest from his businesses, his presidency will be followed by the shadow of conflict of interest,” Jordan Libowitz, a spokesman for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told Business Insider on Monday. “How will this impact any future decisions the Trump administration makes towards Panama? That’s a question we shouldn’t have to ask, but one everyone needs to be asking.”
In court filings, the Trump Organisation called Fintiklis’ effort a “design to wrongfully seize control over the hotel property.”
“Rather than abide by the clear terms of the agreement he had signed, Mr. Fintiklis had been conspiring with others to remove Trump Hotels as manager and fire most, if not all, of its loyal and dedicated employees,” the Trump Organisation said in a statement. “Looking back, it is now apparent that Mr. Fintiklis, in flagrant violation of the commitments he had made, never had any intention of keeping his word and had been plotting a takeover and termination of Trump Hotels all along.”
Fintiklis, who wants to drop the Trump name from the building, argued in court documents that the Trump Organisation’s mismanagement caused occupancy levels to drop while expenses rose.
Fintiklis said Panamanian authorities allowed him to take over the hotel’s administration, claiming victory in a brief press conference with reporters, The Washington Post reported.
“Today, this dispute has been settled by the judges and the authorities of this country,” Fintiklis said, adding that he was so impressed by the Panamanian legal system that he would seek citizenship in the country.
As he has during other moments in the standoff when he claimed victory, he played the piano in the hotel lobby.
“And now, as you guessed it, I will play the piano,” he said before playing a traditional Greek, anti-fascist anthem that he sang along in Greek, The Post reported.
Have any additional details or tips on either the Panamanian standoff or Trump Organisation? Contact this reporter at [email protected]