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Keith Woolford

Waked Up - Waked Family Corruption and Money Laundering Investigations / Prosecutions; Affects Many Businesses, including SoHo Mall, Felix Maduro Companies, Grupo Editorial El Siglo & La Estrella (GESE), etc.

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Banks take over as Soho posts “for sale” sign

Posted on July 9, 2016 in Panama

Post Views: 99

ANOTHER PILLAR  of the Waked family empire is disappearing  as the creditors of Soho Mall have agreed on the formation of a board of directors to manage the facility and receive bids from potential buyers.

The National Bank of Panama (BNP), whose manager is León Rolando, will act as the trustee, reports La Prensa.

Soho Mall, a flagship project of the Waked group does not have debts with the BNP, which is also in charge of the trust to which the assets of Felix B. Maduro, another jewel in the family crown, were transferred.

As the new directors of Soho Mall, creditor banks selected Rafael Reyes, José Barrios and Héctor Alexander.

Reyes is director at Multibank. He was previously linked to Banco Continental and was on the Board of Directors of the Banking Association of Panama.

Barrios is an engineer by profession. He held managerial positions in the Panama Canal, Esso Standard Oil, Cerveceria Nacional, and Cable & Wireless.

Alexander was Minister of Economy and Finance in the government of Martín Torrijos. He was deputy manager of the Colon Free Zone and has been representative to international organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Abdul Waked banned from US

Abdul Waked banned from US

Abdul Waked, the owner of Soho Mall, was placed on the Clinton sanction list by the U.S. government in May for alleged links to money laundering and drug smuggling cartels.

The appointment of a board of directors will allow the mall to stay in business until it is sold. He owes about $176 million for the project.

Waked, who has been banned from entering the USA during the last 20 years.  has already lost control of the family bank and the group’s trust company. His nephew Nidal, is in detention in Colombia awaiting extradition to Florida where prosecutors are calling for a 50-year jail term.

A separate, but slow moving   investigation is underway in Panama.



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Waked Hometek chain closes doors

Posted on July 21, 2016 in Panama

Post Views: 101

ANOTHER PILLAR of the Waked family business conglomerate has fallen with the announcement that the chain of Hometek stores, dedicated to the sale of audio and video products and  appliances, has closed its doors.

The news was announced by the Consumer Protection Authority ACDECO on Thursday July 21.

Hometek was included on the list of businesses connected to Abdul Waked and his nephew Nidal, included on the “Clinton list” for activities linked to money laundering and drug trafficking.

The inclusion on the list prohibits any U.S. entities from engaging in business with Hometek.

The authority informed consumers that any complaint against Hometek should be submitted to its offices.


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Money laundering suspects airport sales plunge 40%

Posted on August 10, 2016 in Panama

Post Views: 185

SALES of the Waked family owned Wisa Group , at Tocumen International Airport plunged 40% in June and July  , after the company was included in the Clinton list by US authorities on suspicion of being part of a money laundering network,according to the the airport’s administration,

Wisa is one of the two  biggest operators of duty free shops  in Latin America.

Wisa and , Motta Internacional won in 2007 the concession to operate the duty free stores . They paid a total of 173 million for the use of 500,000 square meters of Tocumen terminal 1.
Joseph Fidanque III, manager of Tocumen, SA, declined to give specific figures on Wisa in sales, but said the airport has received $100,000 less for the operation of the company that manages stores under the label La Riviera, Burberry, Brooks Brothers and Columbia at the airport.

“Looking at the numbers in recent months, I can say that the impact of the drop in sales of Wisa has been offset by an increase in transactions from other stores,” said Fidanque III.
With Wisa  included in the Clinton List, local banks cut credit cards services for the  group  a situation that has affected sales, taking into account that travelers handle little cash. Wisa cannot buy more goods from US suppliers, which are exposed to sanctions by the authorities of that country, if they have  transactions with companies in the Clinton List.
In addition to the decline in sales, Wisa has returned two shops acquired in Tocumen last year.
“These places are going to bid again,” said Fidanque III, who reiterated that there is no cause at this time to withdraw the Wisa concession which expires in December…

Tocumen is currently  working on a plan to advance the bidding for the duty free Terminal 1, in the unlikely event that Wisa will be un able  to continue operating.
The tender was set for early  2017, but now it is estimated that the specification will be published in August and September. Some five companies have already expressed interst in bidding.


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Soho workers feel the pain

Posted on August 13, 2016 in Panama, Your Man in Panama

Post Views: 130

WORKERS in stores  that are trying to function in Soho Mall are not predicting a “Happy New Year” for 2017.

They held a peaceful demonstration on Friday August 12  to express their concerns  about their future in the establishment once owned by the Waked family.

The mall, along with  the rest of the group’s business operations  is on the U.S. Treasury’s Clinton list because of alleged links to large scale money laundering.

Like the worker’s and suppliers hit by the Donald Trump bankruptcies, those at the bottom end of the scale suffer the most pain.

Inclusion on the list severely restricts the commercial viability of the mall because it prohibits financial transactions with any US entity, including customers and suppliers.

On Friday employees carrying white balloons   gathered in front of the mall, on Calle 50.

In July, the Waked family,  placed the mall  in a trust controlled by creditors. The family,  apparently  thought that would be enough to qualify for an operating license. However, the US has so far failed to issue that license.

The mall has a temporary license that is good through January 2017. The hope of a brighter year ahead rest on the possibility of the creditors selling the enterprise to a well-heeled entrepreneur. Meanwhile many of the workers are knocking on doors elsewhere.


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Soho Mall step nearer to sale

Posted on August 19, 2016 in Panama, Panama

Mall employees concerned oer their future
Post Views: 106

SOHO MALL, the flagship of the Waked family has received a license  from The US Treasury Department to facilitate its sale.

The mall is owned by Abdul Waked, whose companies were placed on the Clinton List due to his alleged connections to drug traffickers.

The license will allow Soho Mall to have access to American financial services until January 2017.

Any sale of the mall must be approved by the US government.

The Treasury Department prohibits its citizens and companies from engaging in transactions with entities on the Clinton List.

The mall has been placed under the supervision of a trustee who will supervise the sale. The trustee is a representative of the mall’s creditors.

A similar formula was used for the Felix B. Maduro department stores, another company owned by Waked reports La Prensa.


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Nikal Waked’s extradtion approved

Posted on August 26, 2016 in Panama

Nidal Waked fcess long US jail term if found guity
Post Views: 142

COLOMBIA’S Supreme  Court of Justice of has endorsed the  extradition to the United States of Panamanian businessman Nidal Waked

The decision was announced on Friday August 26 reported La W Radio.

In the US, Waked, who had requested a  fast – extradition ,will  face  the Southern District of Florida Court , which investigates money  laundering and bank fraud. The Florida prosecutor is calling for a 50 year jail term.

Waked  was arrested in Bogota, Colombia, on May 4 . The next day, the United States Department of the Treasury, through its Bureau of Foreign Assets (OFAC), announced the inclusion of Nidal Waked, his uncle Abdul Waked and 68 corporations in the Clinton List of money laundering activities and drug trafficking. Brothers of  Nidal and the son of Abdul were also included in the list.

Thw United States prohibits its citizens and companies from trade and financial relations with the entities and persons listed.

The effect in Panama has led to the Waked family operations like Soho Mall and Felix B Maduro being  put in trust pending sale, and the devastation of its La Riviera chain.

The Waked owned Balboa Bank is in the hands of the banking superintendent pending sale.

The US investigation of the family  has extended over 10 years. No Panama charges have been announced.


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15 Soho Mall shops closed

Posted on August 29, 2016 in Panama

Soho Mall where luxury reigns
Post Views: 212

SOME  15 shops have closed since May 5 in Panama’s high end  Soho Mall, ollowing  US against its owners, the Waked family.

The United States Department of the Treasury, through its Bureau of Foreign Assets (OFAC) put Westline Enterprises Inc (project owner) on the Clinton List, along  with  66 corporations linked to Abdul and his nephew Nidal Waked, accused of laundering drug money

The nephew  is in jail in Bogota awaiting deportation to Florida where a prosecutor in calling for a 50 year jail term.

Meanwhile  Panama’s Chamber of Commerce is calling  on US authorities to grant  operating licenses to the stores.

The store closings were confirmed by Dominico Ferrante during an event at the Chamber

Delicate situation
 Ferrante, the spokesman for a group of 80 stores that have invested $60 million in the project, said that “it is a delicate situation.”

He said the stores are not receiving merchandise.

“The national government together with the ambassador of the United States must do something immediately to solve what is happening,” he added

The businessman said that two meetings with the Ministry of Economy and Finance on this topic have been cancelled.

Mall employees concerned oer their future

Mall employees concerned about their future

Chamber President Jorge García Icaza urged the national government and the US embassy to issue a license to allow stores in the mall to engage in business with US entities.

“There are 80 store owners who have no responsibility for what happened,” he said.

The former Waked flagship  is in trust with creditor banks until it is sold.

The Felix B. Maduro store chain is also in trust  awaiting a buyer.


Edited by Bud

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The actions of the US government are absolutely inexcusable. There are "accusations" but no proof offered, but hundreds of Panamanians are now without jobs. Why doesn't the US government take similar action against the anonymous corporations in Nevada?...all potential money launderers? One of these days the US will lose its ability to bully other countries!

  • Upvote 1

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We always admire the US legal system but in this case the person had been judged before having a trial or presented proof of the crimes commited.  It was a financial murder commited against the Waked and their companies.

If the problem is with one individual they should have presented charges against the person and not the company. Seems like there are other hidden interests behind this actions.

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Eight consecutive postings in this topic have been removed as of this morning as having gone off-topic and adding no value to the primary subject.

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Ambassador confirms Abdul Waked has sued the United States

Redacción de La Prensa 12 sep 2016 - 20:21h

Temas: Abdul Waked Estados Unidos Lista Clinton John Feeley

Businessman Abdul Waked, who was included in May by the United States on the so-called Clinton list for activities related to money laundering and drug trafficking, has filed a lawsuit against the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The suit was confirmed Monday by U.S. Ambassador to Panama John Feeley, who said that the suit was presented by Waked's lawyers in Washington.

"There is a judicial process where they are taking their case," the diplomat said. "It is in the hands of a judge."

Feeley made the comments when asked about it after a meeting with the members of the Foreign Relations Committee of the National Assembly.

Abdul Waked, as well as his son Hamudi and his nephew Nidal Waked, were included on the Clinton list along with 68 Panamanian corporations. Nidal was arrested in Bogota, Colombia, where he is now awaiting extradition to the United States.

Entities from the United States can not have any relationship with people or companies on the list.

On several occasions, Abdul Waked has claimed that the U.S. government has not shown any evidence against him.


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Colombia president ok’s Waked extradition to US

Posted on September 20, 2016 in Panama

Nidal Waked
Post Views: 177

Panamanian Nidal Waked will soon be getting his day in a US court  to face charges  of fraud and money laundering after Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos authorized his extradition.

A Florida prosecutor is reported to be calling for a 50-year sentence in a case that has devastated  the Waked family owned business empire that once included Soho Mall, Felix B Maduro and the La Riviera chain of stores, a prominent fixture in  Latin American airports.

Santos approved the extradition before heading to New York to participate in the 71st General Assembly of the United Nations.

Nidal Waked is currently being held in La Picota Prison in Bogota. He was arrested in Colombia May 4.

The next day, the US Department of the Treasury placed 68 companies linked to Nial Waked and his uncle, Abdul Waked, on a sanctions list.

The Wakeds have denied any wrongdoing and have sued the U.S. government over the decision, which prohibits any US entity or citizen from engaging in transactions with companies in the family conglomerate.


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The seemingly over punitive action by the U.S. Treasury Department against this family and their holdings has led to quiet speculation that links to the funding of terrorism are suspected by Washington.

Edited by Keith Woolford

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Felix B. Maduro sold to a group led by Arrocha


The retailer chain Felix B. Maduro has been sold to FBM Retail Corp., whose principal shareholder is Grupo Arrocha of Panama, in partnership with Grupo Diunsa, S.A. and A.F. International Corp.

The amount of the transaction was not reported.

Grupo Arrocha operates the Arrocha pharmacy network, founded more than 90 years ago and currently consisting of 33 branches and more than 2,500 workers.

A press release reports that Diunsa is one of the largest department store chains in Honduras, with over 40 years of experience, while A.F. International Corp. has investments in supermarkets and real estate in the region.

The sale was consummated Friday when the U.S. Department of the Treasury, through its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) excluded the companies operating Felix B. Maduro from the so-called Clinton list, which prohibited them from engaging in transactions with U.S. entities.

The companies were included on the list on May 5 when the OFAC took action against owner Abdul Waked and his family.

To keep the stores open, Waked agreed to transfer all the assets of Felix B. Maduro to a trust controlled by creditor banks, which prompted the OFAC to grant a license to the chain to operate normally until Dec. 14.

OFAC removed the stores from the list once it certified that the new owners have no links with Waked.

The bids were reviewed by three directors appointed by creditor banks, including Carlos Rabat, the current manager of stores who will remain in his post during the transitional period. The National Bank of Panama (BNP), through its Manager Rolando De León, acted as trustee.

The proceeds of the sale will be distributed according to the following order of priority: employment benefits, creditor banks with real guarantees and finally suppliers. Any money that remains will be placed in a trust that will be returned to Waked if he is cleared by US authorities.

Waked acquired Felix B. Maduro in 2015. The company has operated in Panama for nearly 140 years.


Edited by Keith Woolford

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The case was dismissed in Panama by the Fiscalia and I think that also in the US.  Why?  Lack of evidence that link the Waked family to money laundering or other criminal activity.  So looks like the Waked family is looking to sue the OFAC in the US and also the Fiscalia in Panama for all the financial damage done to their companies.

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WakedTocumen duty free locations up for grabs

Posted on November 27, 2016 in Panama

Post Views: 82

TENDERS for duty free location at Tocumen International airport  will be  launched in January 2017.

The available locations include 77 premises in Terminal 1  currently operated by the  Waked family’s Wisa group which has  been placed on the Clinton list with alleged links to drugs and money laundering according to US authorities

The Tocumen administration said on several occasions that they estimated holding the tender before the end of this year especially after the problem with stores belonging to Wisa reports CentralAmericaData.

Waked International S.A.,  has operated 77 duty free premises since 2007. Its expires in December 2017. The stores have been selling only to customers paying cash

An article on Prensa.com reports that “…Tocumen is also preparing tenders for concessions of commercial premises in the south terminal, which to date is 63% complete. The aim is have a schedule for the tender before the end of this year. The calls will be made during 2017, with the first one being in the food category.”


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In extremis US Extends Licenses to Waked Companies

The Bureau of Foreign Assets has extended until March 10, 2017 the license for Soho Mall and up until July 13th the license for the newspapers La Estrella and El Siglo belonging to the Gese Group.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The extended license for Soho Mall will facilitate the sale of the shopping center, which will continue operating with US companies and will have access to the country's financial system until March 10, 2017.

See document from the Bureau of Foreign Assets[[See next quote for an expansion of this link.]]

Source: laestrella.com.pa




Publication of Kingpin Act/Panama-related General License; Update to Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Kingpin Act/Panama-related General Licenses


Today, the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published two Kingpin Act General Licenses: General License 3B, "Authorizing Certain Transactions and Activities to Wind Down Operations Involving La Estrella and El Siglo Newspapers", and General License 4E, “Authorizing Certain Transactions involving the Panamanian Mall and Associated Complex, Soho Panama, S.A. (a.k.a. Soho Mall Panama).”  These General Licenses authorize certain transactions and activities that would otherwise be prohibited pursuant to the Kingpin Act.  OFAC is also amending two Frequently Asked Questions.










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Nidal Waked extradited to U.S.

Posted on January 19, 2017 in Panama

Abdul and Nidal Waked
Post Views: 151

PANAMANIAN   citizen Nidal Waked,  a former kingpin in the  Waked family business empire was extradited from Bogotá.  Colombia Colombia to the United States on Thursday Jan. 19.

The information was confirmed by  El Tiempo de Bogotá.

Nidal Waked was arrested in Bogota on May 4, 2016. The next day, the United States Treasury  Department  announced that he and  his uncle Abdul Waked and 68 corporations, were on the Clinton List of for activities related to money laundering and drug trafficking.

That same day, the Balboa Bank and its brokerage , in which Nidal

appeared as treasurer, were closed by Panama’s  Banking Superintendency. (SBP) and the Securities Market (SMV).

Nidal’s brothers and Abdul’s son, and Nidal’s  lawyers, were also included on the list.

Last September, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos approved extradition to the United States.

Waked had requested an express extradition to face charges  of alleged money laundering and bank fraud in  the Southern District of Florida  where,  if found guilty,  he could be sentenced to up to 50 years in prison.


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US Court denies Waked bail

Posted on January 28, 2017 in Panama

Post Views: 86

WHILE PANAMA was focused on high profile members of the former administration and their business associates linked to the Odebrecht bribery scandal last week, Nidal Waked appeared in a Florida court and pleaded  “not guilty” to money laundering and drug trafficking.

In the hearing before Judge John O’Sullivan, he was denied bail.

Panama money, influence
“He has passports from Panama, Colombia, Spain and some kind of status in Canada and is an international traveler.

“In addition he seems to still have access to money and Influence in Panama. Therefore, it may be a risk of leakage and he must remain in detention” said the judge”

Waked was extradited from Bogota to the United on  January 19.

He was arrested in Bogota on May 4, 2016. The next day. The U.S. Treasury Department

Announced that he and his unncle Abdul Waked and 68 corporations were on the Clinton List of people and business activities related to money laundering and drug trafficking.

That same day, the Balboa

Bank and stock  brokerage , where Nidal was treasurer, were closed by the Panama  Bank and trust superintendencies.

Nidal’s brothers and Abdul’s son, as well as his lawyers, were also  included in the list.

In September, the Colombia president, Juan Manuel Santos, endorsed Nidal Waked’s extradition to the United States  Waked had requested express extradition to that country, where he faces multiple charges including bank fraud and  faces sanctions of up to 50 years in prison.


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Sinaproc director fired over Waked support letter

Posted on February 8, 2017 in Panama

Jaime Ospino Cordoba, dismissed
Post Views: 154

THE DIRECTOR  of the National Civil Protection System (Sinaproc) in the province of Colón  has been fired after using his  position to provide support for  businessman Nidal Waked, accused in the United States.of money laundering and bank fraud 

Jaime Ospino Córdoba used Sinaproc letterhead carrying the institution’s badge when sending a  letter to  the Court of the Southern District of Florida,

The Public Ministry said Wednesday Feb. 8 said Sinaproc had  sent a “clarifying note” to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs So that, “by official means,” it may be sent to the magistrate of the District of South Florida.

Noting that “the use of the Sinaproc badge and name, as well as the letterhead stationery was not authorized and under no circumstances should it be interpreted that the note expresses an opinion or recommendation by Sinaproc, as an institution of the Government of the Republic of Panama”.

In his note  Córdoba wrote that he has always seen Nidal Waked as a  man committed to the community, and he has “no doubt that he is an honest man, always collaborating for the common good “.

Federico Policani, mayor of Colón,and three  PRD deputies Benicio Robinson, used official stationery to express support for Waked who if found guilty could face up to 50 years behind bars.


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