Schucry Kafie has served as honorary consul for Jordan in Honduras for more than thirty years, while in 2016, a judge cited Kafie’s diplomatic status as honorary consul in allowing the millionaire to avoid detention after an arrest for fraud.
Who is Schucry Kafie?
Schucry Kafie is a Honduran businessman and philanthropist noted for being the founder of Lácteos de Honduras S.A.—better known as Lacthosa—the country’s largest dairy company. He is also a founding member, along with his brothers Luis and Eduardo, of Luz y Fuerza de San Lorenzo Sociedad Anónima—better known as Lufussa—the largest electricity supplier in Honduras.
Born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Kafie received a Bachillerato en Ciencias y Letras from the Instituto San Francisco in 1965, and then moved to Washington, DC, United States to attend Georgetown University. He graduated from Georgetown with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1971. Kafie worked for his parents’ business until 1974, when he established New Mark Representaciones S.R.L., which “represented domestic and international companies” conducting business in Honduras. In 1984 Kafie was named “Honorary Consul of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan” in Honduras.
In 1988, Kafie founded Lacthosa, initially as a dairy company, and in 1994, he and his brothers founded Lufussa. In 2004, the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of the Central America (FEMAMCO) awarded Kafie the Orden FEMAMCO for promoting and strengthening Central American integration, as operator of Lacthosa. Through these companies, the wealth and influence of the Kafie family substantially increased, to the point that a 2006 study by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation named Kafie one of “the most powerful men in Honduras”, citing Kafie’s role with respect to Lufussa. Kafie has also been noted by a number of studies to be influential in a variety of other product categories, particularly including the dairy and fruit juice products sold by Lacthosa.
Schucry Kafie married Marlene Nasser, a sister of Fredy Nasser in 1982. They have four daughters Stephanie, Elena, Vivian, and Marianne, all four of whom work for Lacthosa. Kafie’s daughter Elena is Marketing and Sales Director for Lacthosa, and daughter Marianne is also a Lacthosa executive. Kafie’s brother-in-law Fredy Antonio Nasser Selman is a Honduran businessman, head of the Terra Group (Grupo Terra). The group includes Petróleos de Honduras (Hondupetrol) and Interairports. From 2001 to 2006 the Group invested over US$300 million. A 2006 study by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation named Nasser one of the three “most powerful men in Honduras” (along with Schucry Kafie, and banker and industrialist Jaime Rosenthal).
Nasser is a graduate in architecture of the Texas A&M University. He is the brother of Maria del Carmen Nasser, appointed Ambassador to Chile, and the son-in-law of Miguel Facussé Barjum.
Recently, government ministers in Jordan approved the termination of its honorary consul in Honduras, a millionaire businessman Schucry Kafie, according to a Jordanian official. But till date, according to official website, Kafie is shows as the honorary consul of Jordan in Honduras.
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in a report has termed Schucry Kafie as a “shadow diplomat”. ICIJ in their report said:
Schucry Kafie has served as Jordan’s honorary consul in Honduras since 1984. His influential family has many companies, including the medical supply firm Distribuidora Metropolitana SA, or DIMESA.
In 2015, prosecutors accused DIMESA of selling medical equipment at inflated prices to the Honduran government, in what authorities alleged was a “mega-fraud”. Kafie was among those arrested on charges that DIMESA had overbilled the government on a $118 million contract. In 2016, a Honduran court opted not to prohibit Kafie from leaving the country, noting that he was an honorary consul who sometimes needed to travel. The charges were later dismissed.
Kafie said that he was appointed as consul after the death of his father, who had held the position for 20 years. “There is no benefit,” Kafie said. “It is an honorable job”.
He said the criminal charges were politically-motivated and that the company did not overcharge the government. He added that the court allowed him to leave the country for health reasons and not because of his consular status.
In a November 14, 2022 report Contracorriente said eight members of the Kafie family were holding honorary consul positions, even as some of them have been implicated in cases of corruption or human rights violations. It said:
Neither career diplomats, nor ordinary citizens, honorary consuls are halfway there: they are voluntary office holders with limited functions. They often exist in countries or cities as honorary representatives in countries or cities not considered strategic enough by the host nation to have an actual ambassador or consul.
An analysis by Contracorriente and the Latin American Center for Investigative Journalism has found that there are 62 people in Honduras today representing other countries as honorary consuls. The study was part of a global investigation led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and ProPublica, which gathered 160 journalists from 46 countries to investigate people who would have used this figure around the world to commit abuses or receive preferential treatment.
In Honduras, one person currently occupying an honorary consul position was charged by the prosecution for fraud against the State and was granted permission to leave the country in the middle of his judicial process.
In June 2015, the Public Prosecutor’s Office (Ministerio Público – MP) of Honduras accused the businessman and honorary consul of Jordan, Shucri Kafie Larach, of the crime of ‘swindling to the detriment of the public administration’ in his capacity as president of the board of directors of Distribuidora Metropolitana S.A. (Dimesa), a company that, according to the MP, overvalued medical equipment that it sold to the Honduran Institute of Social Security (Instituto Hondureño de Seguridad Social – IHSS).
In the case file against Shucri Kafie and Juan Alberto Madrid, representatives of Dimesa, and seven other State officials, the MP stated that «the company Dimesa used the contract as a means to deceive the IHSS.» A technical report submitted by the IHSS Controller Office, carried out by biomedical engineer Walter Martínez, established that Dimesa’s contract was overpriced by 42.90% to 46.31%.
Shucri Kafie, who at that time was the president of the board of directors of Dimesa, faced the judicial process as a free man. In addition, he was permitted to leave the country in spite of having obligations to report to the court every fifteen days. Kafie was granted this because he needed medical treatment in the United States and Panama and also for another very important reason: he is the honorary consul of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Honduras.
Indeed, from the beginning of the legal process, Kafie was given special benefits. One month after the indictment, a court ruled in favor of Kafie’s defense and Dimesa’s Juan Alberto Madrid. They were permitted to pay bail at 10% of the amount they had defrauded – that is, 103 million lempiras – , and required to report to the court every fifteen days. At the same time, the court allowed Kafie to leave the country «whenever required».
The Public Prosecutor’s Office filed a constitutional challenge against these measures. They argued specifically that Kafie’s fine was insufficient and that Kafie was a flight risk due to being able to leave the country.
«In the case of Mr. Shucri Luis Kafie Larach,» the MP argued, «the Criminal Procedural Code does not say anything about the documentation that reports his state of health and that which refers to his obligations as consul».
Referring to the flight risk, the Public Prosecutor’s Office said that «the means [Kafie] has to leave the country or remain hidden should be taken into account».
However, in an email communication with journalists, Shucri Kafie responded that «it is false» that he was permitted to leave the country due to his position as honorary consul.
«The honorary consul does not have any special or different treatment before Honduran law; the authorization [on leaving the country] to which he refers was strictly due to a health issue».
He also wrote, «It is worth clarifying that this authorization was issued by the Court of First Instance [a lower court] and not by the Supreme Court of Justice as per your question».
Indeed, the case file notes that Kafie’s defense attorney requested on June 9, 2015, as soon as the arrest warrant was issued, that the international arrest warrant, the immigration alert and the preventive detention order be rendered null and void.
In a hearing of the defendant’s statement, Kafie’s private defense argued the vulnerability of the defendant due to his age and health, and also said he should receive special measures because «he is a consular officer».
The judge in that instance said that, although the 1973 Vienna Convention calls for courtesy treatment for honorary consuls, this did not exempt Kafie from being tried and, if necessary, being subject to a custodial measure.
The Vienna Convention, which governs consular affairs, provides that honorary consuls should benefit from «deferential» treatment in the event of criminal proceedings.
The international agreement is signed by 182 countries, including Honduras. It says:
«When criminal proceedings are instituted against an honorary consular officer, he shall be obliged to appear before the competent authorities. However, the proceedings shall be conducted with due deference to that official by reason of his or her official capacity and, except in the case of arrest or detention, in such a manner as to cause the least possible disturbance to the exercise of consular functions».
A month later, the same judge argued that because he is a consul, Kafie would not be restricted from leaving the country. The businessman’s defense presented a document in which they state that, since June 15 of that year, the consul was not present at work due to health problems derived from the judicial process to which he was being submitted, leading the consulate to remain closed.
Despite the accusation against him, Shucri Kafie was not removed from his duties as honorary consul of Jordan, a position he has held without interruption since 1984. Kafie added in his response to our questionnaire that the Jordanian embassy «was informed of all the details throughout the process. We were part of a process where the presumption of innocence prevails». He also said that this is a case already judged by the Honduran justice system, in which the charges were dismissed due to a fallacious accusation motivated more by [politics] than by a legal logic that would support the accusation».
The embezzlement of the IHSS occurred between 2011 and 2014 and produced as a reaction a milestone in the anti-corruption fight in the country.
Connections between Schucry Kafie and Jordanian royals
Members of the Jordanian royal family, including King Abdullah have been smuggling-out hundreds of millions of dollars to several foreign countries for decades. They also help Palestinian mega-terror outfit Hamas in secretly investing millions of dollars in European and American nations. A significant portion of Hamas fund is invested in transnational drug trade, mostly with the help of wealthy businessmen. It is anticipated that Jordanian royals have huge investments in Schucry Kafie and his family member’s business activities.