The Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower is a 70-story skyscraper in Panama City, Panama. According to a new report by the anti-corruption organization Global Witness, the resort may be tied to Colombian drug cartels and other shady figures.
Several office units were sold to David Murcia Guzmán, the founder of a large Colombian marketing company. Guzmán now sits in a U.S. jail cell, awaiting extradition to Colombia after being convicted of laundering money for drug cartels.
The man who sold these spaces to him was Alexandre Ventura Nogueira. In a joint NBC and Reuters investigation, Ventura said that Ventura he had “challenge” with Ivanka Trump over whether he could sell 100 of the units in the building. If he succeeded, she would name him the lead sales rep for the project.
Ventura was successful in his bet and landed an appearance alongside Donald Trump in a video promoting the Central American project.
However, some of the units were sold several times. Once the project was completed, complaints began arising that Ventura double- or triple-sold units and that several customers “ran into each other.”
Ventura is now a fugitive hiding in an undisclosed location in Europe, where he told Reuters an arrest warrant is still waiting for him. He is under a federal investigation for international money laundering and admitted to laundering money for corrupt Panamanian politicians. In 2009, he was arrested on fraud charges related to the project.
The investigation did not find the Trump Organization or members of the Trump family engaged in any illegal activity, or knew of the criminal backgrounds of some of the project’s associates. But Ventura said that the Trumps never asked any questions about the buyers or where the money was coming from.
The Trump Organization does not own the hotel but rather licenses the Trump name to the project in order to boost sales.