Canadian businessman Cy Tokmakjian, gets 15-year prison sentence in Cuba
A Canadian automobile executive has been sentenced to 15 years in Cuban
prison on corruption-related charges.
Cy Tokmakjian, 73, has been in detained by Cuban authorities since Sept
By: Michael Weissenstein Associated Press, Published on Sat Sep 27 2014
HAVANA— A Canadian automobile executive has been sentenced to 15 years
in Cuban prison on corruption-related charges that officials here call
part of a broad campaign against graft, his company said Saturday.
Ontario-based Tokmakjian Group said the charges against its president,
Cy Tokmakjian, 74, were concocted as an excuse to seize the automotive
firm’s $100 million in assets in Cuba. The company described the case
Saturday as “absurd” and a “travesty of justice.”
The company’s Cuban offices were raided in 2011 as Cuba launched an
anti-graft drive that has swept up foreign business executives from at
least five nations as well as government officials and dozens of Cuban
employees at key state-run companies.
Foreign business people have long considered payoffs ranging from a free
meal to cash deposits in overseas accounts to be an unavoidable cost of
doing business in Cuba. President Raul Castro has said that rooting out
rampant corruption is one of the country’s most important challenges.
More than 150 foreign business people and dozens of small South American
and European companies have been kicked out of the country under the
anti-graft drive. Several dozen defendants have ended up in jail,
including a few foreigners and high government officials accused of
influence-peddling and taking bribes.
Such cases, and questions about their fairness, have chilled many
current and potential investors in Cuba, which is trying to attract
foreign capital to jumpstart the stagnant economy.
Cuba’s judicial system is known for speedy proceedings behind closed
doors with little or no media access. Cuban officials have said little
about the Tokmakjian case beyond announcing last year that the
Tokmakjian Group’s operating license had been rescinded due to
unspecified actions “that are contrary to the principles and ethics that
should characterize commercial activity, and contravene Cuban judicial
Tokmakjian managers Claudio Vetere and Marco Puche got 12- and 8-year
sentences, respectively, company vice-president Lee Hacker told The
Associated Press. He said the company’s lawyers were notified of the
sentences on Friday.
The Canadian company said its president had been allowed to call only
four of the 18 expert witnesses he wanted to testify.
“The deception taking place in Cuba is beyond imagination,” the company
said. “Lack of due process doesn’t begin to describe the travesty of
The company’s website lists its head office in Concord, Ont.
The website says it provides both transportation services and engine
Source: Canadian businessman Cy Tokmakjian, gets 15-year prison sentence
in Cuba | Toronto Star –