PANAMA CITY – The US Treasury Department lifted on Monday the sanctions it had put in place against the Panamanian dailies La Estrella and El Siglo after their owner, Abdul Waked, included since 2016 on the so-called Clinton List, “irrevocably” transferred 51 percent of the stock in the papers to a Panamanian foundation, a government official reported.
As a result of the “irrevocable transfer” of 51 percent of Waked’s shares the dailies La Estrella and El Siglo, starting immediately, will cease being sanctioned by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the US Embassy in Panama said in a statement.
All earlier prohibitions that restricted US citizens and companies from carrying out financial transactions with the dailies were also lifted, the official announcement said.
Majority control of the newspapers’ stock was transferred to the Foundation for Publishing History, the directors of which are Eduardo Quiros, the president of the La Estrella and El Siglo Publishing Group (GESE), Samuel Lewis Navarro and Eloy Alfaro, and it will now exercise effective control and ownership of the dailies starting on Oct. 18, 2017, the embassy said.
In the statement US Ambassador John D. Feeley applauded the efforts of Quiros to find a viable route forward for the “respected dailies,” and he praised the workers at the publishing group for their perseverance and for maintaining their journalistic conviction for the benefit of Panama during difficult times.
The threat of closure had hung over GESE due to the sanctions implemented by the US Treasury since May 2016, when Waked had been placed on the Clinton List of people designated for their money-laundering activities and their ties to drug trafficking.
In the face of the sanctions, the dailies had implemented emergency measures including reducing their print runs and payrolls.