Canada agency financed C$418 million in Cuba deals for Tokmakjian firm

Mon Sep 29, 2014 7:03pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A little-known Canadian federal agency helped put in place a total of $418 million ($373 million) worth of Cuban deals for a firm headed by Cy Tokmakjian, the businessman jailed for corruption in Havana last week.

The Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) acts as Canada's international contracting and procurement agency, helping Canadian firms bid for procurement contracts with foreign governments.

When acting as a prime contractor the CCC helps mitigate risks by signing a contract with a foreign government and then a separate contract with a Canadian supplier. This ensures that a company does not need to worry about being paid as long as it fulfils the term of the contract.

In Cuba, the CCC helped Canadian businessmen like Tokmakjian by providing trade financing to Cuban government buyers.

Tokmakjian, the Ontario company's founder, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges that include bribery, fraud, tax evasion, and falsifying bank documents. His company called the case a "show trial" and a "travesty of justice."

The total value of CCC's Cuban contracts with the Tokmakjian Group between 1992 and 2011 was C$418 million, said corporation spokeswoman Lina Seto.

"No wrongdoings were identified in relation to the CCC contracts involving the Tokmakjian Group in Cuba," Seto said.

The CCC's annual report for the 2010/11 fiscal year said the value of all contracts it arranged in Cuba in the previous 20 years was around C$600 million.   Continued...

A sign is pictured outside the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) headquarters in Ottawa September 29, 2014.  REUTERS/Chris Wattie