U.S. News

Honduran politician sentenced to three years in U.S. for money laundering

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A member of a prominent Honduran family who once served in the nation’s cabinet was sentenced to three years in prison on Friday after he pleaded guilty to a U.S. money laundering charge.

FILE PHOTO: Yani Rosenthal exits the Manhattan U.S. District Courthouse in New York City, U.S., May 6, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Yani Rosenthal, 52, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John Koeltl in Manhattan federal court. He declined Koeltl’s offer to speak in court after the sentenced was announced.

Rosenthal pleaded guilty before Koeltl in July. At his plea hearing, he admitted that, while serving as vice president of a meatpacking business owned by the family’s Grupo Continental conglomerate, he “knowingly” authorized purchases of cattle from a business that helped fund the Cachiros, a drug trafficking ring.

Rosenthal further admitted that the meatpacking company exported beef from those cattle to the United States.

As part of the plea, he agreed to pay a fine of $2.5 million.

Rosenthal was charged in October 2015 along with his father, Jaime Rosenthal, a former vice president of Honduras, and his cousin, Yankel Rosenthal, a former minister of investment under current Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

Prosecutors have said that the men engaged in a multi-year scheme to launder proceeds of narcotics trafficking and bribery offenses through accounts located in the United States.

Yankel Rosenthal pleaded guilty to attempted money laundering in August.

Jaime Rosenthal remains in Honduras, though U.S. authorities are seeking to have him extradited.

In addition to serving in the cabinet of former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in 2006 and 2007, Rosenthal was a member of the nation’s legislature between 2010 and 2014, and ran for president in 2009 and 2013.

Other prominent Hondurans have faced drug-related charges in the United States, including Fabio Lobo, the son of former Honduran President Porfirio Lobo.

Fabio Lobo was sentenced to 24 years in prison in September after pleading guilty to a U.S. charge of conspiring to import cocaine into the United States. He had entered his plea in May 2016, about a year after he was arrested in Haiti in a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sting.

Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Andrew Hay