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Canadian faces 15-year jail term in Cuba corruption case

A Canadian businessman arrested in a high-profile crackdown on corruption could be jailed up to 15 years, Cuban authorities said Monday.

Cy Tokmakjian, president of a transport firm called the Tokmakjian Group, is accused of using bribery, unauthorized financial transactions, illegally expatriating large sums of money, and altering payroll and other records to avoid taxes, the National Post said.

Two other Canadian citizens are also accused in the case. Prosecutors identified them as Marco Vinicio Puche Rodriguez and Claudio Franco Vetere.

Also named were more than a dozen Cubans, including 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, while the other defendants face possible terms of 8 to 12 years.

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

President Raúl Castro’s government has said there is no place for graft in the country. But foreign executives say gifts or cash payments are often demanded in business dealings conducted with low-paid government officials, the National Post said.


Julie DiMauro is the executive editor of FCPA Blog and can be reached here.

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