Corrupción – Cuba – Corruption
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Cuba prosecutors seek 15 years for Canadian man

Posted on Monday, 06.30.14

Cuba prosecutors seek 15 years for Canadian man

HAVANA — Prosecutors are seeking 15 years in prison for a Canadian
businessman who was arrested in a high-profile crackdown on corruption,
Cuban authorities said Monday.

The trial of Cy Tokmakjian, president of an automotive and
transportation company, the Tokmakjian Group, concluded June 12 and a
ruling is to be announced “in the coming days,” according to an
announcement published by Communist Party newspaper Granma and other
official media.

The case is being watched closely by the foreign business community in
Cuba. President Raul Castro’s government has said there is no place for
graft in the country, although foreign executives say gifts or cash
payments are often demanded in business dealings conducted with low-paid
government officials.

Tokmakjian is accused of using corrupt practices to obtain benefits in
business negotiations, carrying out unauthorized financial transactions,
illegally expatriating large sums of money, altering records to avoid
tax obligations and payroll irregularities.

Monday’s announcement named for the first time two other Canadian
citizens among the accused, identifying them as Marco Vinicio Puche
Rodriguez and Claudio Franco Vetere.

A Canadian Foreign Affairs spokesman said diplomats in Havana are
monitoring the cases closely and providing them with consular services,
but would not comment further. Officials at the Tokmakjian Group’s
Canada offices did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Also named were more than a dozen Cubans — Tokmakjian Group employees,
government officials and executives at state-run businesses in the
tourism and nickel sectors.

Prosecutors are seeking the toughest prison sentence, 20 years, for
Nelson Ricardo Labrada Fernandez, a former vice-minister of the
now-defunct Sugar Ministry.

The other defendants face possible terms of 8 to 12 years.

The court was also asked to order more than $91 million in compensation
for “economic damage they caused to various Cuban entities and the Tax
Administration,” to be paid for in part by money and assets seized
during the investigation.

A number of foreigners from several companies were swept up in the 2011
crackdown. Another Canadian, Sarkis Yacoubian of Tri-Star Caribbean, was
released earlier this year and returned home after serving 2 1/2 years
of a nine-year sentence in Cuba.

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