CUBA STANDARD — The graft trial in a Havana provincial court against Canadian businessman Cy Tokmakjian and two Canadian employees ended, and sentencing is pending.
The prosecution is seeking 15 to 20 years in prison. In an unusual step, the prosecutor also demands Tokmakjian “repay” $90 million in damages to the Cuban economy, partly with assets seized by the Cuban government.
In a two-page document sent to the Associated Press, his family said that Tokmakjian was held two years without charge; it wasn’t until two months ago that his lawyers learned about the allegations. Fourteen of the 18 defense witnesses were rejected without explanation.
For the first time since Tokmakjian’s arrest two years ago, official media released limited details of the allegations.
According to Granma, they included “bribery, actions damaging to the country’s economic activity or its contracting, falsification of banking and trade documents, swindling, currency trafficking and tax evasion.”
The attorney general accused Tokmakjian of “illegally expatriating extremely large sums of money, altering information in accounting records and sworn declarations in order to evade taxes, and giving kickbacks to workers, who performed work that was not legally authorized or contracted through Cuban agencies.”
“A simple and objective reading of recent court decisions will lead to the conclusion that what is shown as ‘corruption’ is internationally accepted business practices,” a statement by Ontario-based Tokmakjian Group said.
In connection to the Tokmakjian case, five Cuban employees, as well as an unknown number of former officials at Cuba’s Sugar Ministry, the Ministry of Basic Industry, and the Tourism Ministry have been indicted.