Exclusive: British fund executives to go on trial in Cuba

Tue May 28, 2013 6:56pm EDT
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By Marc Frank

HAVANA (Reuters) - The two top executives of a British investment fund in Cuba are scheduled to go on trial in Havana on Thursday, according to sources close to the accused men, as part of an unprecedented government crackdown on corruption involving foreign businessmen.

In the second trial of foreign executives on the Communist-run island in a week, Amado Fakhre, a Lebanese-born British citizen and chief executive officer of Coral Capital Group Ltd, faces various bribery charges related mainly to the fund's import business.

Chief Operating Officer Stephen Purvis, who headed up various investment projects, reportedly faces lesser charges, such as operating outside the bounds of the fund's license.

Fakhre has been jailed since the company's offices were raided and closed in October 2011. Purvis was arrested and imprisoned in March 2012.

"We are providing consular assistance to them and their families and a consular official will attend the trial," a British diplomat said.

The trial has not been announced to the public or media.

Coral Capital was one of only a handful of small foreign investment funds in Cuba. It was caught up in a dragnet of Cuba's international trading sector, which was part of a broader crackdown on corruption by President Raul Castro, who replaced ailing brother Fidel in 2008.

In September 2011 authorities shut down one of the most important Western trading companies in Cuba, Canada-based Tokmakjian Group, after doing the same in July to another Canadian trading firm, Tri-Star Caribbean.   Continued...

Havana offices of British investment firm Coral Capital Group are closed and cordoned off with Cuban police crime scene tape October 14, 2011. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa