Cuba summons Chilean businessman Max Marambio in corruption investigationBy Paul Haven, AP
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Cuba orders Chilean to appear in corruption probe
HAVANA — Cuba has ordered a colorful Chilean businessman with deep personal ties to Fidel Castro to appear in a corruption probe or face a possible arrest warrant.
The decree gives Max Marambio until July 29 to appear before investigators looking into possible bribery, embezzlement, falsifying documents, fraud and other charges “in which the Chilean citizen stands accused.”
It warns that an arrest warrant will be issued if Marambio fails to show up, a move that can also lead to the forfeiture of Marambio’s significant holdings in the country.
The summons is the first apparent movement in the case since April, when a top Chilean executive who worked for Marambio was found dead in his Havana apartment after being questioned in the investigation. The cause of his death has not been revealed.
Marambio’s office in the Chilean capital of Santiago told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the businessman was out of the country and would return in 15 days. It refused to say where he was, or whether he had traveled to Cuba.
Chilean media reported several weeks ago that two lawyers for Marambio were being sent to Havana to represent him in the case.
The summons naming Marambio appeared Tuesday in the Official Gazette, the weighty tome where the Cuban government publishes official decrees and laws.
Marambio met Castro in 1966 while accompanying his father on a trip to Cuba as part of a delegation of sympathetic political leaders. He later became the chief bodyguard of Chilean socialist President Salvador Allende.
After Allende was toppled in a 1973 military coup, Marambio sought refuge in Cuba, maintaining close ties to Castro and developing wide-ranging business interests. Rio Zaza, the company he part-owned together with the Cuban government, made “Tropical Island” brand juices and other products that were ubiquitous in hard-currency stores catering to foreigners and tourists. The brand has completely disappeared since the probe was launched earlier this year.
The probe of Rio Zaza is one of several moves against high-level corruption. In March, Cuba removed veteran revolutionary Rogelio Acevedo, who had overseen the country’s airlines and airports, amid speculation that he had been caught up in a corruption probe.
Esteban Morales, a senior pro-government intellectual, published a stinging essay earlier this year that called corruption a greater threat to Cuba’s communist system than the island’s small and fractured opposition.
He warned that senior officials were waiting like vultures to snap up the country’s resources, much like the oligarchs who grabbed control of business in the Soviet Union following its collapse.
Tags: Caribbean, Chile, Criminal Investigations, Cuba, Havana, Latin America And Caribbean, South America