HAVANA (Reuters) – A British investment fund has become the latest company swept up in an investigation by Cuban authorities of corrupt practices among the Communist island’s state businesses and their foreign partners.
Police closed the Havana offices of the Coral Capital Group Ltd last week and arrested chief executive Amado Fakhre, a Lebanese-born British citizen, sources close to the company said.
The offices were sealed and cordoned off with police crime scene tape during the weekend.
Andrew Butchers, the fund’s finance director, told Reuters from Coral Capital’s London office that the company had no comment now but would release a statement soon.
A month ago, authorities shut down one of the most important Western trading companies in Cuba, Canada-based Tokmakjian Group, after doing the same in July to another Canadian trading firm, Tri-Star Caribbean.
The top executives of both companies and a number of their Cuban employees and business partners were arrested.
A vice minister for sugar, Nelson Labrada, was arrested in late September for signing off on purchases from the Canadian companies, a source close to his family said.
Just as in the Canadian cases, the precise allegations against Coral Capital are not known and have not been reported in Cuba’s state-run media but they are evidence that the government’s corruption sweep is widening.
Coral Capital, registered in the British Virgin Islands in 1999, is best known in Cuba as the joint venture partner in Havana’s upscale Saratoga Hotel and another hotel complex on the resort key of Cayo Coco.
It had plans to build golf courses and related real estate developments near Havana, for which it had begun raising equity capital, and expected to sign a final agreement with the Cuban government by 2012.