April 9, 2018 / 10:55 PM / 6 months ago

Panama says it won't intervene to help Trump with hotel spat

PANAMA CITY, April 9 (Reuters) - Panama’s government said on Monday it will not intervene in a dispute between the Trump Organization and a new majority investor in a hotel in the country’s capital, after the U.S. president’s family business asked for help.

In March, legal representatives of the Trump Organization wrote to Panama President Juan Carlos Varela asking him to help the group in its fight over ownership of the 70-floor hotel complex, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

The letter from a law firm, dated March 22, asks Varela to use his influence and alleges that its due process rights had been violated.

But the Panamanian vice president said on Monday that getting involved in the dispute would be outside the government’s remit.

“I don’t think that the executive branch has a position to take while this issue is in process in the judicial branch,” Vice President Isabel Saint Malo told reporters.

The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The bitter dispute surrounding the Trump-branded hotel has shone a fresh light on the business dealings of the U.S. president across the world.

When it was completed in 2011, the 70-floor building in Panama City was Donald Trump’s first international hotel venture, a complex including apartments and a casino in a waterfront building that has earned him between $30 million and $50 million.

Trump licensed his brand to the luxury project and provided hotel management.

But workers removed the Trump name from the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in March after the Trump Organization lost control of administration of the property.

The letter alleges that legal decisions violated a 1983 trade deal designed to protect U.S. investors in Panama.

The case is now in international arbitration. (Reporting by Elida Moreno, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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