Financial Restrictions on GESE Editorial Group Lifted

Following the transfer by Abdul Waked of Gese's majority shareholding to Fundación Publicando Historia, the Editorial Group's access restrictions to the United States financial system have been lifted.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

From a statement by the US ambassador in Panama:

I and my Embassy colleagues in Panama congratulate all parties involved in the successful effort to reestablish unfettered access to markets and the financial system of the United States on behalf of the newspapers of the La Estrella de Panama and El Siglo Editorial Group (GESE).

This is a momentous achievement that reinforces the critical importance of the freedom of the press and the plurality of media outlets in a democratic society such as Panama’s.

We applaud Eduardo Quirós, President of GESE, for his unrelenting and valiant leadership in securing a viable path forward for these venerable newspapers.  As well, we salute the employees of GESE for their perseverance in upholding their journalistic commitment to Panama during trying times.

Finally, we commend and express our support for the members of the Fundación Publicando Historia, who interceded to preserve Panama’s national heritage and protect its open and democratic future. As a result of the irrevocable transfer of 51 percent of the shares of Abdul Waked from Grupo Cedro Panama, S.A., and Warner Lake Corp. on October 18, 2017, the Fundacion is now the controlling beneficiary and owner of GESE newspapers.  The newspapers are no longer blocked under the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)’s 50 Percent Rule. All prior prohibitions on dealings by U.S. citizens and businesses with these newspapers no longer apply.

Effective immediately, the U.S. Embassy intends to renew its subscriptions to GESE newspapers.

I have no doubt that I and my American colleagues will read critical comments in future editions of GESE publications regarding U.S. policy related to Panama and more broadly.  That is both healthy and to be expected.  Panamanians deserve nothing less than a well-informed dialogue of issues and ideas.  As Thomas Jefferson, the first U.S. Secretary of State and the Third President of my country once famously said:

“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

Congratulations again to the workers and journalists of GESE, the Fundacion Publicando Historia, and all Panamanians who will benefit from their journalistic mission to inform.

The 50 Percent Rule states that entities owned 50 percent or more by a blocked person are also considered blocked regardless of whether said entities appear on OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List).  Neither of the newspapers La Estrella or El Siglo appeared on the SDN List; however, both were blocked due to the fact that they were 50 percent or more owned by a person on the SDN List.



More on this topic

Soho Mall Taken Off Clinton List

June 2017

After the sale of the shopping center was confirmed to a Mexican group, the US Treasury Department has lifted the sanctions it imposed in May last year.

The exclusion from the list of persons and companies linked to money laundering and drug trafficking activities was confirmed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on its website on June 14. 

In extremis US Extends Licenses to Waked Companies

January 2017

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.

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.

Facilitation of Sale of Felix B. Maduro Companies

June 2016

The Office of Foreign Assets Control has granted a license, until December 14, 2016, to access the US financial system, and allow the sale of the companies to be managed.

The license granted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control and the US Treasury Department (OFAC) is valid until December 14 this year and authorizes the companies Importadora Maduro, Maduro Internacional and Lindo & Maduro to make arrangements for them to be bought.

USA Denounces Money Laundering Network in Panama

May 2016

A list of people and companies involved in international money laundering includes brothers Abdul and Nidal Waked, another 6 individuals, and 68 companies, among which is Balboa Bank.

The businessmen Abdul and Nidal Waked and companies such as Grupo Wisa, Vida Panama and Balboa Bank, have been included in the "Clinton" list which indicates which people and related organizations are linked to money laundering and drug trafficking activities.