Trump Organization Requests Panamanian President’s Intervention in Hotel Dispute
In March of this year, Panama’s Trump Ocean Club Hotel, was embroiled in an ownership dispute. A Panamanian court declared that majority owner Orestes Fintiklas could evict the Trump Organization as landlord of the property.
Fintiklas did just that, declaring, “Today, this dispute has been settled by the judges and the authorities of this country. Today, Panama has made us proud.”
The Trump organization did not take the decision lying down. The organization reportedly sent the President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, a letter asking for his intervention in the matter.
The letter, obtained by the Washington Post, was written on March 22nd. A Panamian law firm representing the Trump Organization, “urgently requests your influence in relation to a commercial dispute regarding the Trump hotel.”
The law firm, Britton and Iglesias threatens that, “the case could have repercussions for Panama’s reputation.”
Panamanian officials were surprised by the request. Foreign Secretary Isabel de Saint Malo said, “It is a letter that urges Panama’s executive branch to interfere in an issue clearly of the judicial branch. I don’t believe the executive branch has a position to take while the issue is in the judicial process.”
While neither Trump or the US Government are mentioned in the letter, this is a drastic step taken by the company that bears his name. Despite his promise to separate from the Organization, Trump still maintains a financial stake in the business. The company is run by his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric.
Britton and Iglesias claim that the letter was pretty standard for them. So standard, in fact, that they did not look to get the approval of Trump or his children before sending it.
This letter will almost certainly be cited by government ethics experts as a violation of the emoluments clause. The Trump Organization has also faced this sort of criticism concerning Trump’s Washington DC hotel.