PANAMA CITY — Lawyers representing President Trump’s company last month wrote directly to the president of Panama, asking him to intervene in a legal fight over the Trump International Hotel in the capital — and warning that the case could have “repercussions” for Panama’s reputation.
The law firm, Panama-based Britton and Iglesias, wrote in Spanish to President Juan Carlos Varela on March 22 to “urgently request your influence in relation to a commercial dispute regarding the Trump hotel.”
At the time, the majority owner of the Trump hotel — Cypriot-born investor Orestes Fintiklis — had kicked out the Trump Organization as the hotel’s manager, after a ruling from a low-level Panamanian judge. The president’s company was seeking to retake control.
The request was extraordinary: The U.S. president’s company was asking the leader of a U.S. ally to intercede on its behalf, disregarding Panama’s separation of powers.
It is the first known instance of the Trump Organization asking directly for a foreign leader’s help with a business dispute since Trump was elected.
In their letter, the Trump Organization’s lawyers did not say explicitly how they wanted the Panamanian president to help. Varela, through a spokesman, has said he has not yet taken any action.
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