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Cuban prosecutors seek up to 15 years for Canadian businessmen in bribery case
Published on July 1, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Caribbean News Now contributor

HAVANA, Cuba -- Cuban prosecutors in Havana's Provincial Court are seeking a 15-year prison term for a Canadian businessman who has been tried on bribery charges, and 20 years for Cuba’s former deputy sugar minister who is accused in the same case, official media reported on Monday.

The prosecution is also asking for $91 million in compensation.

An article in Granma newspaper reported that, during hearings from June 9 to 21 the Provincial Court addressed allegations of bribery, acts to the detriment of economic activity, falsification of banking and trade documents, criminal deception, trafficking in currency and tax evasion against Canadian entrepreneurs Vahe Cy Tokmakjian, Marco Vinicio Puche Rodríguez and Claudio Franco Vetere.

Tokmokjian was accused of using fraudulent and corrupt mechanisms to benefit from trade negotiations with Cuban entities, thus causing considerable damage to the Cuban economy. He was also accused of unauthorized financial operations, of illegally transferring large sums of money out of the country, of altering registered information and affidavits in order to evade taxes, as well as of giving money to several workers, who were involved in activities not legally authorized or who were not hired by Cuban entities.

Also accused were former Cuban officials from the former sugar ministry, including a deputy minister, from the mining industry and from an international economic association entity, as well as workers at the Tokmakjian Group operating in Cuba.

The prosecution called for 20 years imprisonment for former sugar deputy minister Nelson Ricardo Labrada and 15 years imprisonment for Tokmakjian, and 8 to 12 years in prison for the remaining accused.

The prosecution also demanded that the accused pay $91 million in compensation for economic damage inflicted on several Cuban entities and the tax system, which would be provided with the goods and money seized during the investigation into Tokmakjian and the other companies involved in the process.

The court will make its ruling public over the next few days.
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