An attempt to try to strip President Donald Trump's name from a hotel building in Panama has turned bitter, with the U.S. leader's hotel company refusing to leave the Central American country without a fight.
Owners of the Trump International Hotel in Panama City, the country's capital, are reportedly fighting to have the name of the building changed and oust the president's hotel management company, Trump Hotels.
However, two people familiar with the matter have told the Associated Press that Trump's staff "ran off" a team of Marriott executives invited last month to visit the property as a prospective new hotel operator.
The head of Trump Hotels, Eric Danziger, also called Marriott's CEO to complain about the visit, the two people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told AP.
Newsweek also found that the group formerly known as The Trump Ocean Club Panama Owners Association has already stripped the president's name from it's title.
In September, records show the group's website had branded itself under the president's name, with "Trump" appearing 13 times on the front page.
But by January 5, the owners association had completely erased the U.S. leader's name from its title and website.
Now known as simply the Ocean Club Panama Owners Association, the group also posted on its website that it has attained attorneys to "take the necessary legal action to invalidate and cancel" power-of-attorneys "embedded by The Trump Organization in many of the TOC Owner deeds at closing of the purchase of their units."
The owners association says a firm called Global Legal Advisors has already filed documents to remove "embedded" power-of-attorneys from deeds "and they are working on hundreds more." The company offered to do at least some of the legal work pro bono, the group adds.
Global Legal Advisors and the Ocean Club Panama Owners Association could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Trump International Hotel in Panama City, which was completed in 2011, was Trump's first international hotel venture.
Ithaca Capital Partners, a firm based in Miami, bought the hotel amenities and the majority of the units in the hotel last August.
In October, Ithaca floated the proposal of removing Trump Organization’s directors from the hotel board and sending a notice of default to Trump in a bid to cut off Trump's link to the property.
The company cited complaints over alleged mismanagement—a claim the organization refuted.
“Not only do we have a valid, binding and enforceable long-term management agreement, but any suggestion that the hotel is not performing up to expectations is belied by the actual facts,” The Trump Organization said in a statement in November.
In November of last year, it also emerged that the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, who had been tasked with overseeing the international hotel project, had enlisted an accused Brazilian fraudster with connections to drug money launderers and Russian criminals as the hotel's top broker.
The Trump Organization distanced itself from the businessman, Alexandre Ventura Nogueira, however, saying it was never aware of his involvement.
The 70-floor waterfront building, which includes apartments and a casino, has, however, earned the president between $30 million and $50 million, according to AP.
The reported row between Trump Hotels and Marriott casts a spotlight on the issue of how American companies interact with the president's family-owned businesses.
Marriott is one of many companies with business and public policy interests before the Trump administration.
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