One of the Honduran elites accused by US authorities of money laundering, Yani Rosenthal, has spoken publicly to deny his family's alleged links to drug trafficking, as one Honduras' wealthiest and most politically influential families fights to protect its tarnished reputation.
In an interview with newspaper El Heraldo, Yani Rosenthal, the son of former Vice President Jaime Rosenthal Oliva, denied the criminal charges that were made public by US authorities on October 7. The release of the indictment accusing Jaime, his nephew Yankel Rosenthal, Yani and a lawyer associated with the family of money laundering came just one day after Yankel was arrested in Miami.
"For over 80 years Grupo Continental has operated in Honduras, the majority of people who are familiar with this group, know... that at no point have we been drug traffickers nor money launderers," Yani said, referring to the Rosenthals' economic conglomerate that is one of the biggest in Honduras.
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Rosenthal also stated that any information provided to US authorities by extradited drug traffickers about the Rosenthals' criminal activities was false, and that those individuals were looking to "save themselves." Yani did not mention any specific names, but in June, his father Jaime told InSight Crime that the Rosenthals had done business for years with one of Honduras' biggest drug trafficking clans, the Cachiros. The top members of the Cachiros handed themselves in to US authorities in January.
In addition to the indictment, the US Treasury placed Yani, Jaime and Yankel on its drug "Kingpin" list, along with several of the Rosenthals' businesses.
InSight Crime Analysis
Yani's outspoken defense is likely a sign of what is at stake for him if the accusations against his family are not thoroughly disproved.
Not as much attention has been placed on Yani since news of the indictment broke, as Jaime is the head of the family business and Yankel is the only member arrested so far. However, Yani, a political and economic heavyweight in his own right, may have the most to lose from this situation.
The indictment will likely ruin any political aspirations Yani may have harbored. He has previously served in the government of former President Manuel Zelaya, and unsuccessfully ran in the last presidential election.
The charges will also, in all likelihood, have a serious impact on Grupo Continental, which Yani helps run alongside his octogenarian father. Due to their new "kingpin" status, US citizens are now prohibited from doing business with Yani, Jaime or Yankel.