Former Vice President of Honduras Jamie Rosenthal has been indicted in the United States for allegedly laundering money for drug traffickers. The United States Treasury Department has frozen his assets as part of their investigations. Members of his family are also under investigation.
Jamie Rosenthal has denied these allegations.
“We are sure that we will prevail in the trial because the accusations are false. We will fight very hard. And we hope the truth prevails with the help of God,” he said in an email.
His son Yani Rosenthal is also speaking out. Yani ran to become President of Honduras in 2012, but he was ultimately unsuccessful.
In an email, he wrote, “We haven’t committed any illegal acts. We are certain that all our activities are within the law and that we can show that in a fair trial.”
This latest news is a sharp turn of events for the Rosenthals, who have been widely recognized as one of the most successful families to come out of the poor Latin American nation of Honduras.
Many experts are intrigued by the associations between wealthy individuals and criminal networks and organizations.
Senior associate for regional security policy in Latin America Adam Isacson stated, “There is more attention being placed on powerful peoples’ links to the criminal underworld. The pressure being put on Honduras now is to separate ties between the state and narco-trafficking and the government and organized crime. The Rosenthals aren’t in the government but they are quite close to power.”
The Rosenthals maintain a massive empire with a fortune of more than $690 million. Their holdings include banks, construction companies and telecommunication companies.
The banking commission of Honduras has required that Banco Continental, a major financial institution owned by the Rosenthals, must liquidate its assets. The bank’s 220,000 clients will have their deposits returned.
Jamie Rosenthal graduated from MIT in 1958. He owns 20,000 businesses in Honduras, and he states that Warren Buffet is his idol. Perhaps his most unique holding is a crocodile farm consisting of more than 10,000 crocodiles. Rosenthal has previously stated that he has never been engaged in illicit activities.
“We try not to do anything illegal and not have any enemies that cause us problems,” he once declared.
Rosenthal served as Vice President of Honduras from 1986 to 1989 under President José Azcona del Hoyo. Rosenthal was known for interacting with American ambassador John Negroponte, as well as meeting American President Ronald Reagan in the White House. Rosenthal has been a longtime member of the Liberal Party of Honduras.
In the past, Rosenthal has discussed the drug trafficking problem in Honduras. He suggested shifting the country’s billions of dollars spent on border protection to the creation of legitimate jobs. Northern areas of Honduras are known for containing widespread drug operations.
With the recent charges against the Rosenthal family, officials in the United States are using the Kingpin Act to place sanctions upon Rosenthal. The family’s companies in banking, financing, real estate, agriculture, construction, tourism and media enterprises will all be severely restricted.
The Rosenthal family said in a statement that they plan to honor their commitments and obligations, and they will sell assets in order to help investors avoid losses.