Corruption Scandal Shakes Up Popular Havana Brewery / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 19 December 2017 — A police operation at the popular Factoría Plaza Vieja Brewery, in the historic center of Havana, caused the temporary closure of the establishment and the arrest of several people who are being prosecuted on charges of corruption.

According to reports obtained by Martí Noticias, the process began when one of the staff members, after having a money dispute with the management, decided to complain to those in charge and, not getting an answer to their disagreement, reported part of what happened at the police station at Cuba and Chacón Streets, in Old Havana.

“There, one of the investigators, thinking of the future and eager for a promotion, looked into the issue and used the informant as a kind of unpaid mercenary to prepare their own case of corruption,” said a source who requested anonymity.

But the copy of the police report, which asks for authorization to investigate, was received at the head office of the business group led by Brigadier General Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Callejas, president of the state-run Business Administration Group SA (GAESA) .

The investigation into the brewery is ongoing.

“During the investigation, data on a chain of illegalities came to light where the same modus operandi is repeated. A group of employees have been reporting losses and taking out cash, governed by their own rules and those of other executives of the company who, due to their position, are beyond the scope of our responsibility,” says the report, according to a source from the sector who asked not to be identified.

The brewery has now reopened its doors to domestic and foreign tourists.

Some of the workers are among those detained for allegedly swindling millions of dollars from the national economy, and it is expected that the process will involve several GAESA executives, who have controlled the management of Corporación Habaguanex SA since July 2016.

Located on one of the corners of the old Plaza Vieja, specifically where Muralla and San Ignacio converge, the Factoría Plaza Vieja brewery was founded by Eusebio Leal, the Historian of Havana, and the firm Habaguanex SA, on June 6, 2003

And although today in Havana there is another brewery, located in the old wood and tobacco warehouse, the Factoría Plaza Vieja was the first of its kind and rapidly became famous, which led to the opening a new space with similar operations.

Since its creation, Factoría Plaza Vieja has been visited daily by hundreds of habaneros and tourists who love the taste of beer and enjoy Cuban cuisine in a pleasant environment in Havana’s old quarter.

However, the establishment has already been overshadowed by scandals on two other occasions. The first, shortly after its opening, when some of its workers were accused of adding marijuana to the fermentation process of dark beer along with hops, barley and water; and in May 2012, for another case of corruption that ended up sending several of its employees to prison.