Latin America & Caribbean

Cuba hands down 15-year sentence to Canadian executive

Bus in Havana
Image caption The Tokmakjian Group was involved in improving Cuba's transport

A court in Cuba has sentenced the president of a Canadian transport company to 15 years in jail for bribery.

Cy Tokmakjian, 74, was detained in Cuba in 2011 as part an anti-corruption operation. He denies the charges.

The Tokmakjian Group said the court had seized its assets in Cuba, worth about $100m (£62m).

The company said the ruling was a worrying development for potential investors on the Communist-run island.

"Lack of due process doesn't begin to describe the travesty of justice that is being suffered by foreign businessmen in Cuba," the company said in a statement.

Two other executives from the Tokmakjian Group - fellow Canadian citizens Claudio Vetere and Marco Puche - were sentenced to eight and 12 years in prison.

The Ontario-based company sold transportation, mining and construction equipment to Cuba for more than 20 years.

There has been no comment on the case from the Cuban authorities.

Claims

Its offices in Havana were seized in 2011 when President Raul Castro launched a major drive against corruption in the Caribbean nation.

Fourteen Cubans, including two high-ranking officials, were also convicted and sentenced in the case.

Canadian MP Peter Kent visited Mr Tokmakjian in jail last year.

"The trial was, from almost any measure, extraordinarily unfair and rigged," Mr Kent told the Financial Post newspaper.

The Tokmakjian Group was the sole representative of South Korean company Hyundai in Cuba, which has been making efforts to replace its ageing car and bus fleet.

The company has launched claims worth more than $200m (£123) against Cuba through the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris and Canada's Ontario Superior Court.

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