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News > Latin America

Wealthy Honduran Elite Implicated in Panama Papers

  • Hondurans protest against corruption and President Juan Orlando Hernandez in Tegucigalpa, Aug. 14, 2015.

    Hondurans protest against corruption and President Juan Orlando Hernandez in Tegucigalpa, Aug. 14, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 10 May 2016

Jaime Rosenthal and Gilberto Goldstein, both linked to the Panama Papers, are members of the Honduran elite that have huge economic power in the country.

The latest data dump of the Panama Papers has linked two of the richest families in Honduras, both with an ambiguous position on the 2009 U.S.-backed coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya, to offshore companies set up in tax havens through the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.  

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Jaime Rosenthal and Gilberto Goldstein are both prominent Honduran business moguls with holdings across media, banks, real estate, food products, and more. Their families are also connected by marriage through Jaime’s nephew Yankel Rosenthal and Gilberto’s daughter.

According to Panama Papers data released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Rosenthal’s only brother Edwin Mayer was the officer of an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands under the name Pinkenton International Corporation. One of Rosenthal’s sons, Cesar Augusto, was the sole shareholder of a Panamanian entity called Renton Management S.A.

The Rosenthal family controls Grupo Continental, a conglomerate of dozens of companies including Banco Continental, the newspaper El Tiempo and other media, a crocodile farm for leather exports, and sugar, banana, coffee, and cacao companies, among other businesses. Three Rosenthals, including head of the family, Jaime, were linked to money laundering and drug trafficking last year.

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Jaime Rosenthal is a key member of the Honduran Liberal Party, the former party of ousted President Manuel Zelaya before he was removed from office, and has reportedly spoken out against the coup. But the Rosenthals may have suffered a breakdown with Zelaya before the coup.

Jaime’s son Yani was appointed Minister of the Presidency when Zelaya came to power in 2006. Yani left the post at the end of 2007 to run in the party’s internal elections, but instead joined forces with the political current led by Roberto Micheletti, the Liberal Party figure who headed the coup regime as illegitimate president after Zelaya was ousted in 2009.

Goldstein, on the other hand, is a backer of the National Party, which has traditionally traded power with the Liberal Party and returned to Honduras’ top office after the 2009 coup.

In the Panama Papers database, Gilberto Goldstein and his deceased son Mark are both listed as shareholders in the British Virgin Islands entity Melston Investment Ltd.

According to Honduran researcher Leticia Salomon, both Rosenthal and Goldstein had ambiguous and chameleon-like stances on the 2009 coup.

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