Vaughan Businessman Cy Tokmakjian Released from Cuba Jail, Back on Canadian Soil
After more than three years of unlawful incarceration in a Cuban jail during a drawn-out legal dispute, businessman Cy Tokmakjian has returned home to Canada — and most importantly: to his family.
Barry Papazian, legal counsel for the Tokmakjian family and their Vaughan-based transportation business, Tokmakjian Group, explained the company founder is indeed home and “in good health, fantastic spirits, and is looking forward to spending time with his family,” which includes his wife, three children and seven grandchildren.
Tokmakjian, 74, was handed a 15-year sentence from the Cuban government for bribery and corruption charges in September of 2014 — charges Tokmakjian’s family adamantly fought. The ordeal was featured as the cover story of the August/September issue of City Life Magazine.
Before his arrest and incarceration, Tokmakjian ran his transportation business in Cuba for over 20 years without incident. When Tokmakjian was arrested in 2011, the Cuban government seized $100 million of the Tokmakjian Group’s assets and held the company head for nearly three years before any charges were laid. The family maintained Tokmakjian’s innocence throughout the lengthy and emotionally challenging ordeal, and with his return to Canada over the weekend, their faith has been rewarded.
No reason has been given yet for Tokmakjian’s sudden release. The Canadian government recently served as host to secret meetings between the United States and Cuba to help restore diplomatic ties between the two countries, though it’s unclear as to whether this factored into Tokmakjian’s discharge.
The family was immensely thankful for the support of Canada and the government. “Specifically, the tireless assistance of Canada’s former foreign affairs minister John Baird, our Canadian ambassador in Cuba Yves Gagnon, and Peter Kent, the member of Parliament for Thornhill,” says Papazian. “They never doubted Cy’s integrity and commitment to Canadian values.”