Keith Woolford

Waked Up - Waked Family Corruption and Money Laundering Investigations / Prosecutions

80 posts in this topic

Colombian businessman to remain in custody in Miami until money-laundering trial

February 19, 2017 10:33 AM


For the second time since being extradited in January, Colombian-Panamanian businessman Nidal Waked Hatum has failed to persuade a federal judge in Miami to free him on bond so he can be with members of his family while his money laundering case unfolds.

In a ruling last week, U.S. District Judge Robert Scola denied Waked Hatum's request to revoke the previous order by a duty magistrate judge who rejected the defendant's original request for bail.

Scola's decision means that Waked Hatum will have to remain in custody until his trial, which has tentatively been scheduled to begin Oct. 30.

Frank Tamen, the U.S. prosecutor assigned to the case, told the court that the government needs 10 days to present its case against Waked Hatum, while the defendant's lawyer, Norman Moscowitz, said he would need two to three weeks to present his evidence to the jury.

Waked Hatum, 45, has pleaded not guilty to charges of "knowingly and willfully" engaging in financial and monetary transactions designed to conceal drug-trafficking proceeds. The duty magistrate at the time, John O'Sullivan, denied Waked Hatum's bond request.

Born in Colombia, Waked Hatum, lived in Panama where he had businesses and citizenship, as well as having a passport from Spain and residence in Canada. Waked Hatum’s multiple passports and apparent access to money swayed both O'Sullivan and later Scola to deny release on bond.

Tamen, the prosecutor, repeated these reasons in a court document for Scola's consideration at last week's hearing on the second bond request.

“To begin with,” Tamen wrote in his filing, “it should be noted that the defendant is an alien who holds citizenship in three foreign countries and residency in a fourth, but who has no ties to the United States. His wife and children are similarly citizens of foreign countries, and his wife has been denied admission into the United States. Such factors create an obvious incentive to flee.”

Tamen also noted in his filing that federal immigration authorities have issued a “detainer” on Waked Hatum.

“If he were to be released from FDC Miami [the federal detention center downtown] he would immediately be transferred to immigration custody at the Krome Detention Center,” Tamen wrote.


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Who Wants to Buy a Bank in Panama?

In disagreement with the only proposal presented so far, depositors of the intervened Balboa Bank & Trust are preparing their own offer to acquire the bank.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Although last October it was reported that eleven banking groups and two foreigners had expressed their interest in acquiring Balboa Bank & Trust, formerly part of the Waked companies, now it seems that only one group remains interested, whose proposal may not be to the liking of the depositors of Balboa Bank. reports that "...According to sources linked to the process, the offer (by the depositors) must be accompanied by a business plan that is feasible from a financial and operational point of view, in order to be approved by the Panamanian regulator.  In addition, the plan "... must be robust enough to gain indirect approval from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)."

"... The first purchase offer, led by a bank that operates in the commercial zone, does not include all of the entity's assets. This means that it is insufficient to cover shareholders 'equity and the totality of customers' deposits."

Balboa Bank & Trust was taken over in the middle of last year by the Superintendency of Banks of Panama, after having been included in the US Treasury Department's Clinton List.


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Soho Mall bought by Mexican interests


SOHO MALL, on Calle 50, once the thriving flagship  of the Abdul Waked family  business empire until it was hit with allegations of links to money laundering and drug trafficking has been sold.

 The buyers are two Mexican business groups:  Cinépolis, an international theater operator with a presence across Panama and in the mall. The other is a shopping center operator.

The transaction was estimated at $350 million reports La Prensa.

The mall had been in the hands of banking creditors, seeking to recover loans .

 Soho Mall was included in May 2016 on the Clinton list of the  U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control, which identifies companies and individuals allegedly linked to money laundering from drug trafficking.

The US Treasury Department has granted a series of licenses that allowed  certain operations of the complex, but the flow of customers dried up  and many businesses closed in the last year, and visitors to the movie theatre walked through a ghost mall that once flaunted high end retail stores  and  restaurants.

 A tour of the facility showed that there were 25 businesses still open, down from 68 a year ago says La Prensa.

  Business owners are banking on a rebound in business.


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Soho storm reveals resilience

A new future for problem plagued mall?

Hoyporhoy La Prensa, June 7

ONCE AGAIN, the Panamanian economy demonstrates its resilience and ability to weather storms.

The sale of Soho Mall to Mexican investors confirms the confidence they have in the growth of our country.

This result was the result of a joint effort of banks operating in the local arena and the authorities of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, who launched a race against the clock to face a situation without parallel in Panama, generating options that no other country had previously achieved.

Now a chapter is closed. Its  lessons must be understood and widely studied

A country like ours, whose economy depends largely on services, always receives foreign investment with open arms . It is of great importance to maintain the highest standards of trust in the judicial system, the business sector and citizen security. Panama is on  the path of integrity and transparency. That is the clearest way to protect our economy from local shocks and  international scandals.


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Waked launches $165 million lawsuit


\ABDUL WAKED, accused by US Treasury authorities of  heading  a criminal group linked to Colombian and Mexican drug cartels, is launching a court case claiming $165 Million for the loss of the Felix B Maduro retail store chain.

He lost it after his  group of companies were placed on the Clinton list which prohibits US citizens or companies from doing business with those on the list.

In the suit, Waked’s defense requires $ 165 million for damages caused to the businessman by the sale of Felix B. Maduro and other companies in this group.

The Felix B. Maduro group companies were included in the ‘Clinton List’ by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury.

The sale was made through a trust that was created after the state appointed an interministerial commission to oversee the process.

The team of defenders of Waked considers that the Panamanian State is responsible ‘jointly’ for the actions or omissions that generated the results of the sale of the group.

So far, despite formal applications, the National Bank of Panama or any other state institution has not informed Waked of the way the shares of Felix B. Maduro’s companies were sold; The amount or conditions in which the transaction was completed through the trust that is administered by the National Bank of Panama is not known either.

According to the lawyers, there are a number of legal and constitutional violations committed by state officials, and that is what they are trying to demonstrate in the appeal.

The lawyer states in the document presented that in this case, without any legal or civil case in the Panamanian territory against the companies of Waked, the Panamanian State, through the Executive and the National Bank of Panama, who appeared as ‘fiduciary’ , Proceeded with the lack of protection of the right to private property enshrined in the Political Constitution of the Republic of Panama.

All this occurred through the pressure and intimidation exercised for the transfer of the assets to third parties, under the pretext of safeguarding labor security, but overlooking legal certainty, the right to private property and lacking the guarantees and rights Fundamentals of entrepreneur Abdul Waked.

The lawsuit establishes that all this happened violating constitutional norms and putting Panamanian law, impositions and the approval of a foreign entity that has no interference in the national territory.

In view of all the facts described, lawyers insist that the State is responsible for the actions or omissions incurred by both the National Bank of Panama and the people who acted in the process of selling Felix B. Maduro and the group companies .


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