Thornhill au­to­mo­bile exec im­pris­oned in Cuba

Loving fa­ther and grand­fa­ther sentenced to 15 years on cor­rup­tion-re­lated charges

Richmond Hill Post - - Neighbourh­ood News - by Sa­man­tha Peksa

Sev­enty-four-year-old busi­ness­man Cy Tok­makjian, who is cur­rently be­ing held in a mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal in Ha­vana, Cuba, due to fail­ing health, was de­liv­ered a 15-year sen­tence for cor­rup­tion-re­lated charges on Sept. 26.

Tok­makjian, one of sev­eral for­eign business in­vestors who got swept up in an anti-cor­rup­tion cam­paign in Cuba, was taken into cus­tody in 2011 and spent the next two years at La Con­desa Prison in a cell­block with 50 har­dened crim­i­nals and sim­i­larly ac­cused busi­ness­men, be­fore any charges were laid. The company’s Cuban as­sets, worth an es­ti­mated $100 mil­lion, were also seized by Cuban au­thor­i­ties.

Stephen Purvis, of Bri­tish in­vest­ment fund Co­ral Cap­i­tal Group Ltd., spent eight months in the same cell­block as Tok­makjian, where he too went through what he calls “a Kafkaesque process of ar­rest on trumped-up charges” — in his case, rev­e­la­tion of state se­crets, and in Tok­makjian’s case, tax eva­sion, fraud, bribery and eco­nomic crimes against the state. Ac­cord­ing to Purvis, the cam­paign was meant to hide a purge ini­ti­ated by Raúl Castro’s in­te­rior min­istry, to re­move all high-rank­ing of­fi­cials close to the for­mer pres­i­dent, Fidel Castro.

Con­ser­va­tive party mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, Peter Kent, whose rid­ing in­cludes the company’s head of­fice, called the con­vic­tion a “gross mis­car­riage of jus­tice” and mar­velled at what he re­ferred to as the “kan­ga­roo court” demon­strated at the busi­ness­man’s trial in June.

“Our hope now is that Mr. Tok­makjian will be sent home to Canada one way or another to be with his fam­ily,” said Kent. “A far from a sat­is­fy­ing end to this gross mis­car­riage of jus­tice, but in the in­ter­est of his well-be­ing, that’s what the fam­ily and his company hope will hap­pen now.”

Cana­di­ans Clau­dio Vetere and Marco Puche, both friends of the fam­ily and Tok­makjian man­agers, were also sentenced to 12- and eight-year sen­tences, re­spec­tively. “Th­ese are good, hard-work­ing peo­ple,” said Tok­makjian’s son Raffi Tok­makjian. “We want to get them home.”

The Tok­makjian Group is re­port­edly seek­ing $150 mil­lion in da­m­ages and another $10 mil­lion in puni­tive da­m­ages in a suit filed in April against the Cuban gov­ern­ment.

Tok­makjian’s Cana­dian lawyers an­nounced a decision to ap­peal to Cuba’s Supreme Court Oct. 15, de­spite pre­vi­ous con­cerns that it would im­pede the pos­si­bil­ity of his re­lease to Canada to serve out the re­main­der of his sen­tence.

A far from sat­is­fy­ing end to this gross mis­car­riage of jus­tice.”

Cy Tok­makjian (right) with his son Raffi and grand­son Christian

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.