United States : Treasury Sanctions the Waked Money Laundering Organization.
This action exposes the Waked Money Laundering Organization and disrupts its ability to launder drug trafficking proceeds using trade-based methods, duty-free retail, real estate development, and financial services throughout the region, said John E. Smith, Acting OFAC Director. We look forward to working jointly with the Panamanian authorities to protect the Panamanian and U.S. financial systems from abuse by narcotics traffickers and other illicit actors.
In addition to the Waked MLO and its two leaders, the OFAC action designated six Panama-based MLO associates for providing material support and/or acting on behalf of the MLO: Gazy Waked Hatum, Ali Waked Hatum, and Jalal Waked Hatum, brothers of Waked Hatum who manage Waked Hatums import/export, retail, and real estate businesses; Mohamed Abdo Waked Darwich, Waked Fares son, who manages Waked Fares duty-free retail and real estate development operations; and two attorneys, Norman Douglas Castro Montoto and Lucia Touzard Romo, who provide a variety of services, including incorporating shell companies, to the Waked MLO and serve various roles in several Waked-related companies.
Todays designations also target the principal Panama-based companies used by the Waked MLO to launder drug and other illicit proceeds: Vida Panama (Zona Libre) S.A., an import/export company in Panamas Colon Free Trade Zone; Grupo Wisa S.A., a holding company for businesses involved in real estate, construction, retail, hospitality, and media, including the La Riviera chain of duty-free stores operating throughout Latin America; Soho Panama S.A. and related entities, including a luxury mall and real estate development in downtown Panama City; Balboa Bank & Trust, a Panamanian bank; and the Strategic Investors Group Inc., a holding company that owns and controls Balboa Bank & Trust as well as two other financial services companies. Balboa Bank & Trust was used to launder narcotics and other illicit proceeds for multiple international criminal organizations.
This action was conducted in coordination with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs and Border Protection, and the Miami Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Panamanian authorities have been informed of this designation and Panamanian and U.S. authorities will coordinate going forward.
Concurrent with this action, OFAC is issuing three general licenses that authorize certain transactions and activities for limited periods of time with five entities owned or controlled by the Waked network: Soho Panama, S.A. (a.k.a. Soho Mall Panama), a luxury mall in downtown Panama City; Plaza Milenio, S.A. (Millennium Plaza) and Administracion Millenium Plaza, S.A., related to a hotel complex in Colon, Panama; and two Panamanian newspapers, La Estrella and El Siglo, which are owned by Grupo Wisa, S.A. The first two general licenses aim to assist with winding down transactions for a limited period of time by authorizing specific activities that would otherwise be prohibited. The third general license is intended to allow both Panamanian newspapers to continue printing and operating by authorizing specific activities that would otherwise be prohibited.
Since June 2000, more than 1,900 individuals and entities 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 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.
[c] 2016 Al Bawaba (Albawaba.com) Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. ( Syndigate.info ).
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|Date:||May 7, 2016|
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