Cuba Sentences Former Deputy Minister to 20 years in Prison

Cy Tokmakjian was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Note: No picture was available of Fernandez.

HAVANA TIMES — A Cuban court sentenced a former deputy minister of the defunct Ministry of Sugar, Nelson Ricardo Labrada Fernández, to 20 years in prison on charges of corruption in the case involving a Canadian firm, its nationals and over a dozen Cuban officials who were also sentenced, confirmed today the official Granma daily.

The Provincial Court of Havana gave the Canadian director of the Tokakjian Group, Vahe Cy Tokmakjian, a 15-year sentence as well as obliging him to pay millions in damages to the Cuban state, reported dpa news.

The charges against the two ringleaders and 15 other persons included the offenses of tax evasion, bribery, forgery, hard currency trafficking and fraud, among other charges.

Besides Tokmakjian, 73, also sentenced were the Canadians, Claudio Franco and Marco Vinicio Vetere Puche Rodríguez, with sentences of 12 and eight years in prison respectively.  The other Cubans involved received between six and 12 year sentences.

All three Canadians belonged to the foreign company Tokmakjian Group, based in Ontario, which had done business in Cuba for decades and was the exclusive dealer for the South Korean automaker Hyundai and had contracts with several state companies in the transport sector.

Several of the 14 Cuban defendants belonged to the now defunct Cuban Ministry of Sugar, whose functions were transferred in 2011 to a Cuban business group and others to the also dissolved Ministry of Basic Industry, in addition to state enterprises and an institution close to the Ministry of Tourism.

Tokmakjian, accused of causing many millions in losses to the Cuban economy, was also ordered to pay compensation with his assets on the island. The Tokmakjian Group operated in Cuba with four subsidiaries (Tokmakjian Limited, CYMC Corp, Tokmakjian International and Perry Intertrade).

At his trial in June, the Canadian businessman was charged of using fraudulent corrupting mechanisms to profit in negotiations with Cuban entities” and “illegally extract large sums of money from the country.”

The Canadian company rejected the statement a few days ago when it was informed of the sentence and claiming that Tokmakjian is innocent. This is a “travesty of justice,” the company told the newspaper “The Globe and Mail” this week.

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