Action Targets Three Honduran Money Launderers from the Rosenthal Family and Key Companies
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the designation of three Honduran businessmen and seven businesses as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act) for playing a significant role in international narcotics trafficking. Jaime Rolando Rosenthal Oliva; along with his son, Yani Benjamin Rosenthal Hidalgo; and his nephew, Yankel Antonio Rosenthal Coello, provide money laundering and other services that support the international narcotics trafficking activities of multiple Central American drug traffickers and their criminal organizations. As a result of OFAC’s action, all assets of these individuals and entities that are under the jurisdiction of the United States or in the control of U.S. persons are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
In coordination with today’s announcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) also took action to target the Rosenthal family. Yesterday, an indictment charging Jaime Rolando Rosenthal Oliva, Yani Benjamin Rosenthal Hidalgo, and Yankel Antonio Rosenthal Coello, along with a fourth individual, with money laundering in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956, was unsealed in SDNY, and Yankel Antonio Rosenthal Coello was arrested in the United States.
“This action is aimed squarely at the three Rosenthal family members and their properties, for their money laundering and drug trafficking activities,” said Adam J. Szubin, Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “This step underscores that the U.S. government is fully committed to protecting the U.S. financial system from criminals like the Rosenthals. We are fully committed to working with the Honduran authorities to take the necessary steps to protect the Honduran financial system from abuse by drug traffickers and other illicit actors, in order to further safeguard Honduran financial institutions.”
This action was conducted in close coordination with the DEA, Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection’s National Targeting Center, and the U.S. Attorney Offices for the Southern District of New York and the Southern District of Florida.
The OFAC action targets seven key Rosenthal businesses including their principal Panamanian holding company, Inversiones Continental (Panama), S.A. de C.V., known as Grupo Continental. Grupo Continental is the parent company of a conglomerate of businesses in Honduras involved in banking, financial services, real estate, agriculture, construction, tourism, and media. Announced today along with Grupo Continental are its agricultural arm, Empacadora Continental S.A de C.V. (now known as Alimentos Continental), and two of its key financial components, Inversiones Continental, S.A. (a.k.a. Grupo Financiero Continental) and the Honduran bank, Banco Continental S.A., headquartered in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
Today’s announcement marks the first time that OFAC has designated a bank pursuant to the Kingpin Act. Banco Continental S.A. has served as an integral part of the Rosenthal money laundering operations and facilitated the laundering of narcotics proceeds for multiple Central American drug trafficking organizations.
Three offshore investment companies also announced today are Shelimar Investment, Ltd., Desland Overseas, Ltd., and Preyden Investments, Ltd., all located in the British Virgin Islands. OFAC also identified three U.S. entities in Florida as blocked property pursuant to the Kingpin Act –Inversiones Continental U.S.A., Corp., Shelimar Real Estate Holdings II, Inc., and Shelimar Real Estate Holdings III, Inc.
Since June 2000, more than 1,800 entities and individuals have been named pursuant to the Kingpin Act for their role in international narcotics trafficking. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals could face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.
For a complete listing of designations pursuant to the Kingpin Act, see the Treasury Department website.