Money laundering suspects airport sales plunge 40%

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SALES of the Waked family owned Wisa Group , at Tocumen International Airport plunged 40% in June and July  , after the company was included in the Clinton list by US authorities on suspicion of being part of a money laundering network,according to the the airport’s administration,

Wisa is one of the two  biggest operators of duty free shops  in Latin America.

Wisa and , Motta Internacional won in 2007 the concession to operate the duty free stores . They paid a total of 173 million for the use of 500,000 square meters of Tocumen terminal 1.
Joseph Fidanque III, manager of Tocumen, SA, declined to give specific figures on Wisa in sales, but said the airport has received $100,000 less for the operation of the company that manages stores under the label La Riviera, Burberry, Brooks Brothers and Columbia at the airport.

“Looking at the numbers in recent months, I can say that the impact of the drop in sales of Wisa has been offset by an increase in transactions from other stores,” said Fidanque III.
With Wisa  included in the Clinton List, local banks cut credit cards services for the  group  a situation that has affected sales, taking into account that travelers handle little cash. Wisa cannot buy more goods from US suppliers, which are exposed to sanctions by the authorities of that country, if they have  transactions with companies in the Clinton List.
In addition to the decline in sales, Wisa has returned two shops acquired in Tocumen last year.
“These places are going to bid again,” said Fidanque III, who reiterated that there is no cause at this time to withdraw the Wisa concession which expires in December…

Tocumen is currently  working on a plan to advance the bidding for the duty free Terminal 1, in the unlikely event that Wisa will be un able  to continue operating.
The tender was set for early  2017, but now it is estimated that the specification will be published in August and September. Some five companies have already expressed interst in bidding.

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