CUBA

Canadian executive awaits verdict in corruption trial

 
 
Canadian businessman Sarkis Yacoubian goes to court for his corruption trial in Havana, Cuba, Friday, May 24, 2013. The trial of Yacoubian, who was president of import company Tri-Star Caribbean which was shuttered in July 2011, is under way nearly two years after he was detained. President Raul Castro has repeatedly spoken of a need to root out entrenched corruption on this Communist-run island, and his anti-graft drive has swept up foreign business executives from at least five nations, as well as government officials and dozens of Cuban employees at key state-run companies. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Canadian businessman Sarkis Yacoubian goes to court for his corruption trial in Havana, Cuba, Friday, May 24, 2013. The trial of Yacoubian, who was president of import company Tri-Star Caribbean which was shuttered in July 2011, is under way nearly two years after he was detained. President Raul Castro has repeatedly spoken of a need to root out entrenched corruption on this Communist-run island, and his anti-graft drive has swept up foreign business executives from at least five nations, as well as government officials and dozens of Cuban employees at key state-run companies. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Ramon Espinosa / AP

Toronto Star

After a two-day trial behind closed doors in a Havana courtroom, Sarkis Yacoubian goes back to what he has been doing for almost two years — waiting in a Cuban prison.

The 53-year-old Canadian businessman who operated a trading company in Cuba is facing three counts of corruption-related charges that could lead to a 12-year sentence.

His trial Thursday and Friday before a panel of five judges was closed to the media and no official news has emerged about the proceedings. It could take up to two weeks for a verdict and a sentence to be announced.

The Cuban government has not even acknowledged that a trial has begun and the state media has been silent.

The Toronto Star reported earlier this week that the Canadian ambassador to Cuba, Matthew Levin, attended the trial — a sign of how seriously Ottawa takes the matter. The Department of Foreign Affairs would not comment on what the ambassador observed at the trial.

Yacoubian’s arrest in July 2011 sent shockwaves through the small foreign business community in Havana as the Canadian businessman soon found himself in the center of a widening storm over international corruption allegations.

In exclusive phone interviews from prison, Yacoubian told the Star that he cooperated with Cuban authorities and blew the whistle on what he called the “black forces” of foreign businesses engaged in corruption.

In the wake of Yacoubian’s arrest, business executives from at least five nations were detained and more than a dozen government officials and state company executives were imprisoned for graft.

For his trial, Yacoubian was whisked in and out of the Criminal Court of the Peoples’ Tribunal for Havana Province and was expected to return to La Condesa prison on the outskirts of the city.

In Toronto, Krikor Yacoubian said he hoped his brother’s cooperation with Cuban authorities will help him.

“This never would have happened without him, why should he be the fall guy?” he told the Star. “My hope is that he is going to be free very soon.”

Read more Cuba stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category