President Donald Trump’s time in office continues to be defined by a bloated list of scandals crisscrossing the world. Now, the new owners of a Panama development that his business used to manage have in a Manhattan federal court filing accused his team of evading taxes owed to the Panamanian government. Private equity manager Orestes Fintiklis and his company Ithaca Capital Partners claim that rather than setting aside the taxes that two Trump companies operating in Central America owed, they simply pocketed the cash, leaving the new owners with the tax liability that was not disclosed when they purchased a significant portion of the development in question.
It’s not immediately clear from the Ithaca Capital court filing whether Panamanian authorities have sought to collect what they’re owed — which includes 12.5 percent of management fees — but that’s the definite implication of what could happen next if it hasn’t already. In other words, while in the U.S. Trump has been found to have avoided paying great deals of income tax throughout his business career, his overseas business empire isn’t stopping there. Instead, they’re dumping the tax liability onto someone else.
Fintiklis says his company would not have purchased the former Trump Panama development if the Trump Organization had accurately represented its standing to them. In that light, they’re seeking some $17 million in damages, sharing that the Trump Organization even lied to them about how the development was doing. Despite it sitting “virtually empty,” as they put it, the Trump team including the president’s sons Eric and Donald Jr. repeatedly pushed claims that the development was outperforming the local market average by a wide, as much as 20 percent margin.
The building — which now functions as a JW Marriott — has been in the headlines before. After Fintiklis’s company bought a majority of the condos, they evicted Trump Organization personnel, which they infamously responded to with physical force. Fintiklis and associates were eventually successful in getting them removed from the premises, but they found that Trump staffers had taken drastic steps like putting up walls to block access to key building components and shredding relevant documents covering the hotel’s management.
This is far from the only such mishap involving the president’s business empire since he assumed office, although other situations might not have devolved into actual physical scuffles. Still, since Trump became president, they’ve lost a number of buildings, including what was now formerly the Trump SoHo hotel in Lower Manhattan.
Other foreign developments have attracted steep controversy despite them never actually materializing, like in the case of the planned Trump Tower Moscow, which former longtime Trump fixer Michael Cohen is in prison in part for having lied to Congress about. Negotiations were more far-reaching than he revealed, and even included a suggestion at one point for Russian President Vladimir Putin himself to get a penthouse. That’s not exactly a situation conducive for Donald Trump operating free from clear and glaring conflicts of interest.
He’s attracted wide scrutiny for not completely disentangling himself from his businesses while in office in the first place, still earning profits although he ceded executive control.
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