Canadian Armenian businessman goes on trial in Cuban corruption crackdown

A Canadian businessman who has confessed to bribing Cuban officials was scheduled to go on trial in Havana on Thursday, almost two years after his arrest in a sweeping government crackdown on corruption.

The closed trial of 53-year-old Sarkis Yacoubian, originally from Armenia and the owner of import firm Tri-Star Caribbean, was expected to last two days. An associate of Yacoubian, Lebanese citizen Krikor Bayassalian, is a co-defendant, Reuters reports.

The corruption trials of at least three other Canadian and British executives who were arrested shortly after Yacoubian was taken into custody in July 2011 are expected to follow.

After his arrest, Yacoubian quickly cooperated with prosecutors, confessing to bribery and implicating other foreign firms, which sparked an investigation into the communist-run country’s import business.

Yacoubian was expected to plead guilty to bribery, tax evasion and other crimes in the trial and could face a sentence of up to 12 years behind bars. Bayassalian faces the same charges.

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