The owners of a luxury hotel in Panama formerly managed by the Trump Organization accused it on Monday of evading taxes and mismanaging the hotel’s finances. Orestes Fintiklis, who owns a majority of the hotel, effectively accused the company of cheating a foreign government out of taxes, creating a potentially harmful situation for the reputation of President Donald Trump.

The dispute began in 2017 when Fintiklis bought 202 of the hotels 369 units. Almost immediately after his purchase, the Cypriot native took legal action against the Trump Organization, claiming that they had improperly managed the hotel’s finances, hurting its business. Fintiklis won a suit in a local Panamanian court, allowing him to oust the Trump Organization as managers. In a dramatic display, the silver “Trump” label was pried off of the building, which then rebranded itself as a Mariott in order to distance itself from the negative connotations held by Trump’s name.


The legal battle has continued since then, however, with additional suits by Fintiklis, as well as countersuits by the Trump Organization. The president’s company claims that Fintiklis committed fraud himself and that the organization is owed $3 million. Fintiklis claims that not only does the Trump Organization owe him $35 million, but that the group committed tax evasion in Panama, robbing the country of a substantial sum of money. According to a lawsuit opened by Fintiklis in Manhattan, the Trump Organization “used its control over the hotel bank accounts to make payments to itself and affiliates without withholding the 12.5 percent tax on its management fees, thus intentionally evading taxes.”


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These lawsuits could have potential repercussions for the president himself, considering that it is his family’s company and reputation on the line here. For years Trump has painted himself as a master businessman, starring on The Apprentice, as well as publishing The Art of the Deal, in which the president details how best to negotiate with someone. Trump’s role as a savvy entrepreneur has repeatedly been called into question in recent years, with many Democrats publicly wondering over how successful Trump really was. The president’s refusal to release his tax records makes his claims even sketchier, as there is no evidence to corroborate Trump’s statement that he is a competent businessman.

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