Report: A leader of Cuba’s cigar industry arrested
- Submitted by: manso
- Politics and Government
- 04 / 30 / 2011
A leader of Cuba’s lucrative cigar industry was arrested in August on graft charges, a British magazine disclosed this week.
By Juan O. Tamayo.elnuevoherald.com. Manuel Garcia, a long-time vice-president of Cuba’s cigar industry, has been arrested and 10 of his staffers may face trial for corruption, according to the British news magazine The Economist.
In a report posted Thursday on its Web site, the newsweekly reported Garcia, the No. 2 at Habanos S.A., has been in jail since August, “accused of mastermind graft on a grand scale.”
Cuban investigators believe Garcia and 10 of his staffers, “who also face trial,’’ were accepting bribes in exchange for selling Cuban cigars at a discount to black market distributors in the Caribbean, The Economist reported.
The report on Garcia’s previously unknown arrest, datelined in Havana, could not be independently confirmed late Thursday. Calls to the Habanos S.A. offices in the Cuban capital were not answered.
Garcia has headed Habanos, the Cuban state monopoly for commercializing cigars, for more than a decade and often acted as the host of mayor cigar events such as the annual cigar festival held in the Cuban capital.
Habanos is a 50-50 joint venture between the Cuban government-owned Cubatabaco and Altadis, a Spanish company owned by Imperial Tobacco, a British company.
The Economist reported that Imperial Tobacco has no comment on the Garcia case “but like the (Cuban) government, it will hope that the new management team at Habanos preserves the lucrative monopoly of Cuba’s most famous product.”
Habanos’ Web page says it was founded in 1994 to “market all Cuban tobacco products, both in Cuba and throughout the rest of the world.” It adds that the company now has a presence in more than 150 countries and that more than 90 percent of its revenues come from its “international business activity.”
Garcia’s case was only the latest in a lengthening string of alleged corruption scandals that have hit Cuba in the past few years.