Cuba: Foreign businessmen jailed for wanting to collect
Do business with Cuba + travel to Cuba trying to get paid = go to jail
The Miami Herald reports on Panamanian businessman Nessin Abadi, in his early 70s and owner of the large Audiofoto chain of electronics stores
, jailed without charges in Cuba for over a year, like many others,
Few of those cases “have been reported in the press and there are many more in the system than is widely known,” [Stephen] Purvis wrote. “As they are all still either waiting for charges, trial or sentencing they will certainly not be talking to the press.”
Purvis also appeared to indicate that Cuba targeted certain businessmen in order to make room for deals with businessmen from other countries that are more politically in tune with Havana and may not push so hard for their debts to be paid.
Purvis wrote to The Economist that the jailed businessmen are from several countries, “although representatives from Brazil, Venezuela and China were conspicuous by their absence.”
Stephen Purvis’s company, as you may recall, Coral Capital, was behind the Bellomonte Golf and Country Club development, which lost £10.6 million. He spent 16 months in jail and was released last July, along with Amado Fakhre, who was the company’s executive director.
The Herald mentions others,
Canadian Sarkis Yacoubian was sentenced to nine years in a prison in June even though he cooperated with authorities in detailing a corruption scheme that also brought down several government officials. His cousin and business partner, Krikor Bayassalian, a Lebanese citizen, was sentenced to four years in prison.
Still awaiting trial is another Canadian, Cy Tokmakjian, who like Yacoubian sold transportation and other equipment to the Cuban government. He was arrested in 2011.
Abadi is not the first Panamanian businessman to run afoul in Cuba.
Alejandro Abood, then 50, was arrested in Havana in 2001 in what an El Nuevo Herald report at the time described as a roundup of Cubans and foreigners suspected of spying activities close to the offices of then-ruler Fidel Castro.
Purvis asserts that “there are many more in the system than is widely known.” You can read his letter to The Economist here.