U.S. seeks key figure in Honduran money laundering case

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TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - The United States has requested the extradition of Jaime Rosenthal, the 80-year-old Honduran banker and politician accused of participating in a scheme that moved illicit funds through U.S. accounts, Honduras’ foreign minister said on Saturday.

Foreign Minister Arturo Corrales told reporters that the U.S. extradition request was received before Christmas, and it will now be up to the Honduran courts to decide whether to grant it.

The Rosenthal family, one of Honduras’ wealthiest and most politically connected families, were accused last year of using their Grupo Continental conglomerate to run what a senior U.S. Department of the Treasury official called one of Central America’s most significant money laundering networks.

In October, Jaime’s nephew, Yankel Rosenthal, president of soccer Club Deportivo Marathon and until last June a minister of investment in the government of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, was arrested on money laundering charges in Miami.

Jaime, his son Yani, Yankel and lawyer Andres Acosta Garcia, have all been charged with engineering the decade-long scheme that allegedly laundered drug trafficking and foreign bribery proceeds through U.S. bank accounts.

The Rosenthal family has denied the charges.

Reporting by Orfa Mejia