Cuban prosecutors seek 15 years for Canadian accused of bribery

Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:17am EDT
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By Daniel Trotta

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban prosecutors are seeking a 15-year prison term for a Canadian businessman who has been tried on bribery charges, and 20 years for Cuba's former deputy sugar minister who is accused in the same case, official media reported on Monday.

Prosecutors are also seeking a total of $91 million in fines or forfeitures from three Canadians and 14 Cubans in a case that has been closely watched by potential investors wary of how Cuba treats foreign executives.

Lead Canadian defendant Cy Tokmakjian, 74, was held for nearly 2-1/2 years before being charged.

Cuba has been touting a new foreign investment law that took effect Saturday, saying it was crucial for attracting foreign direct investment that's needed for development.

The main feature of the law is to lower taxes. But many foreign companies have said they are more interested in the general business climate, transparency and the rule of law, especially in light of this case.

Cuban authorities publicly revealed details of the trial for the first time with an account in Monday's edition of the Communist Party daily Granma, which said the evidence phase of the trial lasted from June 9 to 21 at a criminal court in Havana.

The court has yet to reach a verdict, which is normally rendered within a few weeks of trial.

Diplomats with knowledge of the case have previously said that prosecutors were seeking 15 years for Tokmakjian and 12-year sentences for his top managers, fellow Canadians Claudio Vetere and Marco Puche.   Continued...