Cuba Sentences Canadian Businessman to 15-years in Prison

By Café Fuerte

The entrepreneur Cy Tokmakjian arrested in Cuba since September 2011.
The entrepreneur Cy Tokmakjian was arrested in Cuba in September 2011.

HAVANA TIMES — Canadian businessman Vahe Cy Tokmakjian, 74, president of the Tokmakjian Group, was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a Cuban court on charges of corruption, trafficking hard currencies and tax evasion conducted on the island.

Tokmakjian’s lawyers were informed of the sentence on Friday, announced a brief statement from the Ontario based company.

The information added that two other Canadian citizens and board members of the Tokmakjian Group in Cuba, entrepreneurs Claudio Franco and Marco Vinicio Vetere Puche Rodríguez, were sentenced to 12 and eight years in prison, respectively.

“The disappointment that takes place in Cuba exceeds all imagination,” reads the statement from the Tokmakjian Group, released Saturday. “The lack of due process does not begin to describe the travesty of justice there.”

After three months of waiting

The sentence becomes public three months after the trial held for Tokmakjian, Vetere, Puche and 14 senior Cuban officials and executives. The process took place in the People’s Provincial Tribunal of Havana between June 9-21, and the Cuban authorities promised then that the decision be known “in the coming days.”

The Cuban media have made no reference to the sentences and the fate of the Cuban defendants, including former deputy Minister of Sugar, Nelson Ricardo Labrada Fernandez, for whom the prosecution asked for 20 years in prison.

Tokmakjián remains arrested since September 2011, when State Security agents occupied and sealed the premises of his company on the fourth floor of the Miramar Trade Center, in Havana. Labrada was also arrested around the same time.

According to the official report issued on June 29, the trial of the 17 accused were performed based on the crimes of bribery, acts to the detriment of economic activity or recruitment, altered accounting records and extracting large sums of money from country and tax evasion.

The Cuban Attorney General accused Tokmakjian of using “fraudulent and corrupt mechanisms to obtain benefits in negotiations with Cuban entities, causing considerable losses to our economy; performing unauthorized operations of financial intermediation; illegally extracting large sums of money; altering accounting records and false affidavits in order to evade their tax obligations.”

The Canadian was also accused of giving monetary rewards to several workers who performed functions that were not part of their contracts when recruited by the government employment agency.

The prosecution also asked the court to order the defendants to pay more than $91 million dollars in damaged caused the Cuban entities and the Tax Administration. However, the Tokmakjian Group claims that Cuba seized about $100 million in company assets.

In April 2013, in the midst of investigating the case, the Cuban government officially canceled operations of the Tokmakjian Group after 25 years of business in the island.

Based in Ontario, Tokmakjian Group was the second largest foreign trade company in Cuba, after Sherritt International, with about US $80 million in sales of equipment for construction and mining. The firm also had exclusive rights to distribute Hyundai in the Cuban market and was associated with two other companies for the replacement engines for Soviet era transportation equipment.

After the closing its headquarters in Havana, Tokmakjian Group is suing the Cuban government for $200 million at the High Court of Ontario, Canada, and the International Court of Commerce in Paris.


30 thoughts on “Cuba Sentences Canadian Businessman to 15-years in Prison

  • Wayne, you are very knowledgable about CUBA, what you are saying is correct.

  • El gobierno cubano señala a aquellos empresarios cuya sentencia judicial se sabe de antemano que será condenatoria. Los amigos del régimen y los que pagan a los funcionarios sumas extorsivas, son intocables. La Sherritt no escapa de ese juego turbio. Muchos familiares de Raúl Castro se han posicionado en diferentes áreas de gobierno con la finalidad de cobrar “extras” para permanecer en la isla.

  • Well Wayne, my home is in Cuba and I spend a part of the summer in Canada where my wife joins me from Cuba for her summer vacation from teaching. I’m related to 68 Cubans and address our little dog in Spanish. I do the shopping when my wife is at school – purchasing from people on the street, from peoples front doorsteps and buy the bread from the Empresa 5 pesos for a 200 gram loaf (that is 25% of the average days pay). So living the majority of my time there, well away from any of te tourist spots, I see the reality of life for the average Cuban. I see the regimes five TV channels, as you are possibly aware, reception dishes are illegal.
    The block CDR President is two doors away, he is the eyes and ears of theCommunist Party of Cuba and there is a file on every resident complete with photograph.
    There are many places in Cuba that could be small areas of paradise, were it not for the tentacles of the regime reaching in and goping in every corner. But there is little time to think of paradise if you are a young mother of two children thinking about how you are going to feed them manana when you have only got 10 pesos in your purse.
    Yes, although not my sport, I attend some of the local provincial teams baseball games and watch the vendors trying to sell paper cones of peanuts to eke out a living
    Don’t ever think that I have given up on making my opinions known on Havana Times, it’s just that when in Cuba, there is no form of Internet access available – its the way the regime likes it!

  • The Sherritt plant at Fort Saskatchewan (Alberta) employs over 20 Cubans. The retired father of one of them – he represnted the regimes interests at various time in Switzerland, Japan and London, has special permission to live in Edmonton,but to retain his Cuban citizenship. So, if your guess is correct, there are some bargaing chips and that ability to refine all the nickel is another (9000 tons per year and once refined in Canada it loses it’s indentity on the world market. Finger laid along side of the nose!
    When in due course I cease to contribute for a period Griffin, you can guess where I am.

  • OK Wayne, why don’t you look up the Globe and Mail to see what they said – it was remarkably similar. I imagine that you consider everything that is capitalist as crooked. Well there is an alternative called socialism and youy can see the results of fifty five years of continuous socialism in Cuba. The average ‘pay’ is $20.68 per MONTH! This under the Castro family regime.
    Would you really like to exchange the successful capitalism of Canada for the failed socialism of Cuba?
    Remember the Russian revolution ended up bankrupt of both money and ideas, and although socialists think of China as successful, the GDP per capita is a mere $4,430. As you luxuriate in the comfort of the capitalist world, reflect upon how you would manage to live on the average monthly Cuban ‘pay’.
    I suppose that your knowledge of Cuba is based upon a cheap week in Varadero with the package including ‘free’ Beach, Booze and Buffet. Little did you realise that the room you were staying in had a more than 50/50 chance of being owned by Gaviota – the tourism arm of the Cuban Military.

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