Corrupción – Cuba – Corruption
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Cuba prosecutes Canadian after he denounced corruption – company

Cuba prosecutes Canadian after he denounced corruption – company
BY DANIEL TROTTA
HAVANA, July 7 Mon Jul 7, 2014 1:57pm EDT

(Reuters) – Cuba has prosecuted and is likely to send Canadian
businessman Cy Tokmakjian to prison after he denounced corruption in the
Havana government’s awarding of contracts, his company said on Monday.

“Cy Tokmakjian spoke out against corruption as it was clear the company
was losing contracts to others for unexplained reasons. It’s possible
this outspokenness led to what is now happening,” Lee Hacker, vice
president of finance for the company, said in a statement on Monday.

Tokmakjian and two other Canadian citizens from his transportation
company, the Tokmakjian Group, which has done business in Cuba for 22
years, stood trial on charges of bribery and other economic crimes in June.

A verdict and sentencing in the closely watched case are expected soon.

Cuban prosecutors are seeking a 15-year prison term for Tokmakjian and
12 years each for his managers, fellow Canadians Claudio Vetere and
Marco Puche. All three have maintained their innocence, and the company
has said it fears the outcome was predetermined.

“We are prepared and expecting the typical outcome from the court, which
must follow directions from above,” Hacker said.

Fourteen Cubans including a former deputy minister of the Sugar Ministry
have also been accused in the case of charges that include bribery, tax
evasion, falsifying bank documents. They face sentences of 8 to 20 years
if convicted.

Tokmakjian was arrested in 2011 and held for nearly 2-1/2 years before
being charged after his company was caught up in a crackdown on
corruption by President Raul Castro. The trial took place June 9 to 21.

The Ontario-based Tokmakjian Group did an estimated $80 million in
business annually with Cuba, mainly selling transportation, mining and
construction equipment. It was the exclusive Cuba distributor of
Hyundai, among other brands, and a partner in two joint ventures
replacing the motors of Soviet-era transportation equipment.

The company said Cuba was continuing a pattern of demonizing successful
foreign investors that the communist government wants to get rid of,
citing the case of British businessman Stephen Purvis, who was convicted
of financial crimes and released in 2012 after being held for 15 months.

“Cy was outspoken and gave his opinion on matters to high-ranking Cuban
officials. Some of his opinions may have been controversial, others are
now part of the economic reforms that are taking place,” Hacker said.

Tokmakjian, 74, should have been praised by the Cuban government for
running a company that “operated as angels at all times,” the statement
said.

Cuba has been touting a new foreign investment law that took effect
recently, saying it was crucial for attracting the foreign investment
needed for development.

The main feature of the law is to lower taxes. But many foreign
companies have said they are more interested in the general business
climate, transparency and the rule of law, especially in light of this
case. (Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Source: Cuba prosecutes Canadian after he denounced corruption – company
| Reuters –
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/07/cuba-corruption-idUSL2N0PI0X520140707

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