Corruption unmasked in Honduras

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If you ever wondered why Transparency International considers “No Impunity” so important, recent indictments against the Rosenthal family in Honduras tell the story.

US officials charged three members of this powerful Honduran family with using the bank they owned, Banco Continental S.A., to launder money for drug dealers and stolen public funds. Stopping this kind of alleged activity is exactly what we mean when we say: “Unmask the Corrupt!”

We’ve had enough of corrupt politicians and dirty businesspeople abusing their power to enjoy luxury lifestyles funded by stolen public money. It’s time they face real consequences for their crimes. Join our campaign Unmask the Corrupt today and nominate who YOU think needs to be brought to justice. Once nominations have been collected we will begin voting on 9 December to choose the most corrupt.

The Rosenthal family, which owns a major Honduran industrial company and the country’s eighth largest bank, includes among its members a former vice president of Honduras, a former government minister, a bank president and an adviser to the country’s current President Juan Orlando Hernández.

Today one of the Rosenthal’s is in a US jail awaiting trial while the other two are in Honduras. Their bank was temporarily shut down by the Honduran government and the family’s businesses – which the Rosenthal’s say make up about five per cent of Honduras’ GDP – could also be impacted.

If the bank closes its doors forever a potential 11,000 jobs could be lost. If it turns out the bank enabled money laundering, it’s the owners of this bank who should shoulder the blame because they put these jobs at risk.

The message sent by these charges is clear: the corrupt may be powerful and have money and friends in high places, but ultimately they are not above the law.

According to the allegations in the indictment, the three conspired with others from 2004 through September 2015 to launder the proceeds of drug dealers. They also used their bank to hide money related to the bribery of public officials and the misappropriation, theft, or embezzlement of public funds.

I think banks are trying to fool everybody, they are under certain compliance or regulation standards and are saying that they meet these, be they anti-money laundering standards, know your customer, know your correspondent bank, or know your employee. However, every month we find ourselves facing a new financial scandal where there is a major bank moving corrupt money…”

– José Ugaz, Chair, Transparency International, in La Tribuna

Even though this family owns a group of businesses that includes media, financial services, real estate and construction firms, they now face the fate of more ordinary criminals, including court appearances, potential imprisonment, asset seizures and public humiliation.

We hope others around the world facing similar allegations – or who have chosen to follow a path of corruption – are paying attention. We want them to know that they are being watched by organisations like Transparency International.

Country / Territory - Honduras   
Region - Americas   
Language(s) - English   
Topic - Access to information   |   Accountability   |   Asset recovery   |   Law enforcement   |   Organised crime   |   Politics and government   |   Private sector   
Tags - Money laundering   |   José Ugaz   |   Finance   |   Banks   |   No Impunity   |   Unemployment   |   Banco Continental   

Press contact(s):

Chris Sanders
Manager, Media and Public Relations
press@transparency.org
+49 30 3438 20 666

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