Former Cuban Vice-Minister Faces 20-Year Sentence
Former Cuban Vice-Minister Faces 20-Year Sentence
July 1, 2014
By Café Fuerte
HAVANA TIMES — The trial of Canadian businessman Vahe Cy Tokmakjian,
accused of corruption, traffic of hard currency and tax evasion in Cuba,
ended with a guilty verdict and a petition to incarcerate former Cuban
vice-minister Nelson Ricardo Labrada for 20 years, Cuban government
According to a note published by Cuba’s official newspaper Granma,
during the trial, held at Havana’s Provincial Court from June 9 to 21,
charges were brought against Tokmakjian, Canadian businessmen Marco
Vinicio Puche Rodriguez and Claudio Franco Vetere, as well as against 14
high Cuban government officials and executives.
The press note is the first official statement about the Tokmakjian case
and the proceedings against him published in Cuba.
According to the report, charges of bribery, acts damaging of the
economy and employment, falsification of bank and commercial
instruments, fraud, traffic of hard currency and tax evasion were
brought against the 17 accused.
Considerable Financial Damage
“The Attorney General’s Office of Cuba accused Vahe Cy Tokmakjian of
using fraudulent and corrupt mechanisms to secure benefits in
negotiations with Cuban entities, causing considerable financial damage
to our economy, acting as a financial intermediary without due
authorization, taking large sums of money out of the country illegally,
altering account books and sworn statements with a view to evading tax
obligations and making monetary payments to several employees who
performed duties different from those legally authorized or who had not
been hired by domestic companies,” the official note explained.
The prosecution asked for a 15 year prison sentence for Tokmakjian,
president of the Tokmakjian Group, and a 20 year conviction for Labrada
Fernandez, who served as vice-minister of Cuba’s former Ministry of
Sugar until his arrest in September of 2011.
The other Cuban officials implicated in the crimes (for whom the
prosecution requested between 8 and 12 years in prison) are:
1. Manuel Heriberto Fernandez Santiesteban (Ministry of Sugar)
2. Leonardo Fidel Delgado Dorta (Ministry of Sugar)
3, Jorge Luis Machado Perez (Ministry of Sugar)
4. Jose René Rubio Escobar (Ministry of Sugar)
5. Alberto Cirilo Panton Grahan ( former general manager of Cubaniquel)
6. Ernesto Gomez Cumplido (former president of Ferroníquel Minera S.A.)
7. Fidel Penin Oliva (former Ministry of Basic Industry)
8. Jorge Luis Melo Reyes (former president of the Asociación Economica
Internacional CISTUR, attached to the Ministry of Tourism)
9. Edmundo Javier Cabrera Díaz (Tokmakjian Group branch in Cuba)
10. Antonio Gilí Gonzaez (Tokmakjian Group branch in Cuba)
11. Boris Ernesto Barber Velis (Tokmakjian Group branch in Cuba)
12. Armando Enrique Martinez Ganfo (Tokmakjian Group branch in Cuba)
13. Elsa Fernandez Proenza (Tokmakjian Group branch in Cuba)
During the proceedings, the prosecution called the foreign companies
Tokmakjian Group Inc; Tokmakjian Limited, C.Y.M.C. and Tokmakjian
International Inc. to the stand as liable third parties.
According to the report, the declarations of the accused and numerous
items of evidence, testimonies and statements by experts of the Treasury
Inspector’s Office, the National Tax Administration Bureau (ONAT) and
the Ministry for Foreign Trade and Investment were considered during the
The prosecution also asked the court to request that the accused pay
over US $91 million for damages caused to several Cuban entities and
ONAT. This sum will be covered, in part, with the assets and money
confiscated from Tokmakjian and his companies during the proceedings.
The proceedings have concluded and the court will hand down the
sentences in the coming days. The information on the Tokmakjian case
published by the press sets it apart from the trial of another important
Canadian businessman, Sarkis Yacoubina, tried and convicted to nine
years in prison on similar charges (and released this past February).
The trial of Yacoubian was not reported on by Cuba’s official media.
Tokmakjian, 74 years old and of Armenian origin, has been under arrest
since September of 2011, after Cuban State Security agents seized and
shut down the locales of his firm on the fourth floor of the Barcelona
building at Havana’s Miramar Trade Center.
In April of 2013, during investigations, the Cuban government officially
shut down the operations of the Tokmakjian Group, one of the largest
foreign companies to have operated in Cuba over the past 25 years.
Based in Ontario, Canada, the Tokmakjian Group was second only to
Sherrit International in terms of the scope of its financial operations
in Cuba. It took in some US $ 80 million annually through the sale of
construction and mining equipment.
The company was also Hyundai’s exclusive distributor in Cuba and had
partnered up with two other companies to replace the engines of
Soviet-era equipment on the island.
The Tokmakjian Group has filed a suit against the Cuban government
before the Supreme Court of Justice of Ontario, Canada. The company
alleges that the assets of the Tokmakjian Group were confiscated
illegally and accuses Cuban authorities of interfering in the company’s
commercial dealings with its clients.
Source: “Former Cuban Vice-Minister Faces 20-Year Sentence – Havana
Times.org” – http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=104584