Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Purvis’

Cuba: Risky business

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Canadian businessman Cy Tokmakjian, age 74, was sentenced to 15 years in jail, effectively a life sentence, by the Communist regime, after

Cuba offered to free jailed Canadian executive Cy Tokmakjian in return for $55-million and company assets, his company said on Monday, but the deal fell through because the firm didn’t have the money and the businessman wanted to clear his name.

Of course he was denied that chance, was convicted of bribery and other economic charges, and the Communist thugs carried on as usual,

Cuba seized about $100-million worth of the firm’s assets on the island and also sent two Tokmakjian aides[,Claudio Vetere and Marco Puche,] to prison.

Peter Foster writes about the Risky business in Cuba
After forty years of ‘constructive engagement’ with Cuba, government-backed Canadian investment has effectively propped up the regime
Read the whole article.

Among other businessmen who have been imprisoned: Krikor Bayassalian, Nessin Abadi, Sarkis Yacoubian, Stephen Purvis, Amado Fakhre.

Cuba: Why is the US Chamber of Commerce chief visiting?

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Because they bought hook, line and sinker the propaganda bs:
U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief visits Cuba (emphasis added)

The president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a group of American business executives visited a cooperative here Wednesday to become acquainted with the new forms of non-state management being pushed in Communist Cuba.

And,

Almost a year ago the service cooperatives began operating in Cuba, a novel iniative in a country that during five decades of ongoing revolution had only allowed that management formula to be applied in the agricultural sector.

So, five decades of Communist coops later, the agricultural sector continues to be in ruins. And Thomas Donohue hasn’t figured that yet?

Along with Donohue, Marcel Smits, the chief financial officer of Minnesota-based agribusiness giant Cargill, is there ” to assess the island’s business climate.”

Tweet of the Day: What Private Enterprise?

By Cuban democracy leader, Ailer Gonzalez Mena:The President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce praises the expansion of private enterprise in Cuba. What private enterprise? Castro’s no?

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) called it “shameful that a group like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would choose to visit the island gulag of Cuba where the tyrants owe billions of dollars to the private sector all over the world.”

Alberto de la Cruz points out,

There are two simple yet very important requirements for doing business with Cuba’s apartheid Castro dictatorship: 1) All business agreements have to be made with the Castro regime and all monies from that business must go through them, and 2) You are required to actively and consistently parrot, regurgitate, and disseminate Castro-communist propaganda. Furthermore, neither of these two requirements are negotiable and any prospective investor looking to do business in Cuba has only two options; they either comply fully with the demands or they must forgo doing any business in Cuba.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donahue is fully aware of these requirements and seems to have no issue complying with them.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) describes the hostile environment in Cuba, in a letter to Donohue, naming businessmen the regime has incarcerated:

While the Cuban government may be undertaking cosmetic changes in an attempt to attract badly-needed foreign investment and revive an economy that has suffered from a half-century of chronic mismanagement, I believe it is imperative to detail the frequently hostile operating environment that international business leaders have encountered in Cuba. The case of British businessman Stephen Purvis of Coral Capital is an irrefutable reminder of the ongoing risk faced by foreign businesses working in the country. Although Coral Capital was one of the largest private investors in Cuba – working closely with the Cuban government to renovate the Saratoga Hotel and develop the Bellomonte Country Club – the government eventually turned on Mr. Purvis, accused him of espionage and breaches of financial law, seized all of his assets, and imprisoned him for 16 months prior to his release in July 2013.

It is important to emphasize that Mr. Purvis’ misfortune is hardly uncommon. Canadian citizen, Cy Tokmakjian, President and CEO of the Tomakjian Group, has languished in a Cuban prison for nearly three years and still awaits trial. After providing the Cuban government with transportation, mining and construction equipment for several years, Mr. Tokmakjian was jailed in September 2011. The Cuban government seized his personal assets and those of his business, but never formally charged him with any wrongdoing. These examples are a clear indication of the complete lack of protection for foreign investment in Cuba, and should serve as a sharp warning for any company, including any U.S. business group, studying conditions in the country.

And let’s not forget working conditions in the island-prison

Furthermore, I am deeply concerned about the U.S Chamber of Commerce’s willingness to seek out a relationship with a regime that is in constant violation of international labor rights. More specifically, the Cuban government’s labor and employment practices are in direct violation of International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions on freedom of association, collective bargaining, discrimination, the protection of wages, and the abolition of forced labor. Regrettably, Cuba’s recent foreign investment law makes no efforts to bring the country’s poor labor conditions into accordance with international standards and, therefore, bears a paradoxical implication – it proposes beneficial changes for the state but ultimately ignores the benefits of the people.

Donohue says

his agenda was unhindered by the Cuban authorities and he was confident he was getting a “fair look” at Cuba

Yeah, right.

I wonder if Donohue is fluent in Spanish (looking at the above photo he seems to be traveling with an interpreter), and, if not, is he allowed to bring his own interpreter. Or is he allowed only a Cuban government-approved interpreter – for which he is billed? How much is he billed for the interpreter? How much is the interpreter actually paid?

The only certain thing coming out of this trip is that the oppression of the Cuban people will continue.


Cuba: Foreign businessmen jailed for wanting to collect

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

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.

Cuba: The British man falsely accused of spying

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

16 months in jail without being formally charged, The Briton who languished in a Cuban jail after being accused of spying
Stephen Purvis has returned to Britain after spending 16 months in a Cuban jail on false spying and fraud charges. He speaks to Colin Freeman about the ordeal.

It was not until three weeks before his trial last month that his Cuban lawyer finally got the charge sheet against him – an 8,000-page document that Mr Purvis was not allowed to see. He was convicted, though, only of the minor charge of conducting illegal currency transactions – something, he says, the central bank has authorised for years.

As for money,

Coral is now contemplating another tussle with the Cuban courts – this time a lawsuit to regain £10.6 million in confiscated company assets.

Good luck with that.

Purvis’s company, Coral Capital, was behind the Bellomonte Golf and Country Club development. It’s not the first foreign company to get screwed out of its money by the Communist regime.

And it won’t be the last.