A five-month legal dispute between condo owners and executives has boiled over into violence at Trump International Hotel and Tower in Panama City. Members of the property’s owners group, backed by a Cypriot financier, have sought to cut ties with the Trump Organization over falling profits.
A long-running dispute over who manages the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Panama City turned violent this week, NPR reports. Tension between owners at the luxury condo complex and the Trump Organization, which currently manages the site, boiled over into the physical on Tuesday.
Cell phone footage acquired by The Associated Press captures the moment members of the condo owners group attempt to access a room containing security and maintenance equipment, but are roughly rebuffed by hotel employees.
A representative for one of the hotel’s owners told NPR that the fight only ended when the property’s facilities director was reportedly put into a chokehold.
However, this physical skirmish is just the latest in a long-running legal battle to ascertain who, exactly, is the manager of the property. While the 369 units within the building are owned independently, it is the Trump Organization who has managed the property since its opening in 2011.
But in November 2017, the building’s owners attempted to remove both Trump’s name and interest from the property. Backed by financier Orestes Fintiklis, whose company Ithaca Capital owns 202 units at the hotel, the owners group filed a claim of arbitration in the hopes of cutting ties with the Trump Organization.
In its filing, the group has accused the organization of financial misconduct and alleges that its actions have resulted in a drop in revenues for owners. Commenting to NPR, penthouse owner Algerd Monstavicius, said, “There was a time when I would get $1,500 a night for the place. Now it goes for as little as a couple hundred dollars. And even then, it’s empty most of the time.”
“Between the things [President Trump] says in the press and the stuff he tweets, I don’t blame people for not wanting to stay at a hotel with his name on the building,” he added.
Despite discontent between condo members and Trump management, the Trump Organization has said that it intends to retain the hotel until the conclusion of the legal arbitration process.