Former Honduran Vice President and Grupo Continental CEO Jaime Rosenthal, who faces money laundering charges in the United States, cannot be extradited until the criminal investigation of his activities in Honduras is completed, his defense attorney, Marlon Duarte, said Sunday.

"As long as proceedings are pending against him, the extradition process cannot start" against Rosenthal, a prominent politician and banker, Duarte said.

The 79-year-old Rosenthal is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Wednesday to respond to tax fraud and forgery charges.

The businessman allegedly failed to pay taxes on shipments of beef from Brazil that he reported as being purchased in the United States by his company, Alimentos Continental, which was seized in October.

The U.S. government has requested Rosenthal's extradition, Foreign Minister Arturo Corrales said Saturday.

The United States alleges that Rosenthal laundered money from drug trafficking.

Rosenthal's son, Yani, 50, and nephew, Yankel Rosenthal, 47, face similar charges and are out on bail in Washington.

Jaime Rosenthal ran Grupo Continental, a holding company for his family's business interests, including a like-named bank that the National Banking and Insurance Commission initiated liquidation proceedings against in October. 

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