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[SEATTLE] President-elect Donald Trump's hotel management and development company took its name off a beachfront hotel in Rio de Janeiro, citing construction delays and a difference in strategy.
The removal of Trump's name came after prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into investments in the hotel. A spokeswoman for Trump Hotels declined to comment on the probe. The name will be pulled on Thursday, according to the Washington Post, which first reported the decision to sever ties.
"The developers of the Rio de Janeiro hotel are significantly behind on the completion of the property, and their vision for the hotel no longer aligns with the Trump Hotels brand," Trump Hotels said in a statement Tuesday. "As a result, we have made the decision to remove our brand name from the project." The company also said Trump Hotels won't manage the property.
The Trump hotel, in the Barra da Tijuca suburb, was slated to be finished in time for the Rio Olympics. While it had a soft opening, only half the rooms are functioning and it is still being completed four months after the games ended.
Federal Investigation Anselmo Henrique Cordeiro Lopes, a federal prosecutor in Brasilia, opened a probe into US$40 million in investments made by two small Brazilian pension funds in the Trump Hotel Rio, which was owned by Mr Trump's Brazilian partner, LSH Barra. The project was spearheaded in Brazil by Paulo Figueiredo Filho, the grandson of a Brazilian dictator. Figueiredo, who left LSH Barra in March, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Trump Rio de Janeiro hotel is one of 15 luxury properties listed on the Trump Hotels website. Nine of the hotels are owned by the Trump family, according to the management company.
An Oct 21 court filing by MrCordeiro also cited the separate Trump Towers Rio, a five-tower office project for US$1.5 billion that is part of a downtown port revitalization area. Mr Cordeiro said the Trump Organization "was favored in a suspicious way" by a state bank's investment fund that's been singled out in an alleged bribery scheme involving the former head of Brazil's lower house. That project is on hold.
No one from the Trump Organization has been implicated in the probe, and the company has said it wasn't directly involved in developing the projects.
Trump's businesses have been the subject of bipartisan concern since the election. The incoming president has about US$3.6 billion of assets and $US630 million of debt held in more than 500 companies, according to a July analysis by Bloomberg. His licensing arrangements, golf developments, tenant rosters and loans tie him to businesses and governments in 20 countries. Those ties pose potential conflicts of interest and may raise constitutional issues.