Friday, July 23, 2010

Chilean says he will go to Cuba for graft probe

Chilean says he will go to Cuba for graft probe

A Chilean businessman with close ties to Fidel Castro said Wednesday he
will obey a Cuban prosecutors' summons to appear for an investigation
into possible corruption in his business dealings on the island.

Max Marambio has until July 29 to answer in person questions about
allegations linking him to bribery, embezzlement, falsifying documents,
fraud and other charges, according to an order published Tuesday in the
Cuban government's Official Gazette.

In a statement issued through his lawyer, Marambio said he would respond
to the order, which also said an arrest warrant might be issued if the
businessman does not appear.

"We have decided to appear before this request, to testify and to
provide all the background information in our possession on the issues
under investigation," Marambio said in a statement sent out by attorney
Juan Pablo Hermosilla.

Marambio said he would demonstrate "the total inconsistency of the
alleged offenses."

The Chilean jointly owned the Rio Zaza company with Cuba's communist
government. Its Tropical Island brand of juices and other products were
found in Cuba's hard-currency stores for tourists and other foreigners,
but the brand has disappeared since the investigation began earlier this

Marambio met Castro in 1966 as a member of a delegation of sympathetic

Later he became the chief bodyguard of Chilean leftist President
Salvador Allende and took refuge in Cuba after Allende died in a 1973
military coup. Marambio maintained his relationship with Castro and
developed wide-ranging business interests.

The order from Cuban prosecutors was the first public movement in the
investigation since April, when a Chilean executive who worked for
Marambio was found dead in his Havana apartment after being questioned.
The cause of his death has not been revealed.

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