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posted by Morning Star in World

Ontario-based transport company protests prosecution of president as 'travesty of justice'

CANADIAN businessman Cy Tokmakjian was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment in Cuba on Saturday on bribery and other charges in line with a crackdown on corruption.

Ontario-based Tokmakjian Group claimed that the charges against its president were an excuse to seize the firm’s $100 million (£61.5m) in Cuban assets. 

It called the case against Mr Tokmakjian “absurd” and a “travesty of justice.”

Havana has made no comment on the court’s decision.

However, it reported last year that the Tokmakjian Group’s operating licence had been rescinded due to actions “contrary to the principles and ethics that should characterise commercial activity and contravene Cuban judicial order.” 

Communist Party newspaper Granma said recently that the businessman was accused of obtaining benefits in contract negotiations, unauthorised financial transactions, illegally taking large amounts of money out of the country, falsifying documents to avoid taxes and payroll irregularities.

Tokmakjian Group’s Cuban offices were raided in 2011 as Havana launched an anti-corruption drive that has swept up business executives from five nations as well as government officials and dozens of Cuban employees at key state firms.

The firm had previously done annual business of around $80m (£49.2m) in Cuba, selling equipment for transport, mining and construction.

In Ontario, it said that its president had been allowed to call only four of 18 expert witnesses he wanted to testify.

“The deception taking place in Cuba is beyond imagination. Lack of due process doesn’t begin to describe the travesty of justice,” it claimed.