Thursday, July 3, 2014

Cuba: Canadian Businessman, 74, Faces 15 Years in Prison, Fine of $91 Million

According to The Latin American Tribune, prosecutors are seeking a 15-year prison sentence for Canadian businessman Vahe “Cy” Tokmakjian, who stands accused of corruption in a case also involving about ten Cuban officials, official media said Monday (June 30).

The trial of the owner of the Tokmakjian Group, a transportation company, who was arrested in Cuba in September 2011, took place on June 9-21 in Havana and a verdict is expected in the coming days, Communist Party daily Granma said.

Tokmakjian, 74, and countrymen Marco Vinicio Puche Rodríguez and Claudio Franco Vetere were charged with bribery, tax evasion and bank fraud, among other offenses.

The Attorney General’s Office accused Tokmakjian of “using fraudulent and corrupt means to obtain benefits in the negotiations with Cuban entities, causing considerable effects to our economy,” Granma said.

COMMENT: Besides the 15-year prison term, prosecutors want Tokmakjian ordered to pay more than $91 million in restitution.

The maximum sentence requested in the trial is for 20 years behind bars in the case of Nelson Ricardo Labrada, who was the No. 2 official in the now-defunct Sugar Ministry.
The legal proceedings come after others mounted in recent years for economic crimes on the island, where the government of Raúl Castro is pursuing a campaign against corruption that has resulted in charges being filed against both local officials and foreign business executives.