Havana Court Summons Panamanian Firm’ Joint Venture Partner in Rio Zaza / Laritza Diversent

The Economic Chamber of the Court of Havana issued a summons to the Panamanian corporation Ingelco S.A., to appear and answer the lawsuit within sixty working days from March 28, 2012.

The notice, issued on March 23, 2012 by the Supreme Court and published on the 27th of that month in the Official Gazette of the Republic, the organ of publication of national laws, the former Audience of Havana, ignores the legal address of the firm.

According to the Secretary of the Court, Mara Piedras Velarde, the organ of justice of the capital, began the paperwork in 2012 for the Dissolution and Liquidation of the Joint Venture Company Rio Zaza S.A., at the request of the Food Corporation S.A.

Ingelco S.A. had a contract of international economic association with the Heroes of Giron Combined Citrus Company, effective until December 31, 2005, and with the Combined Lacteo Rio Zaza, for 13 years from August 10, 1998, according to the Resolution of the then Minister of Foreign Commerce, Raul de la Nunez Ramirez.

The court notice also warned that failure to respond “would indicate agreement with the facts of the demand, without the need to provide proofs.” In addition the notification of a judicial resolution provides for the modification of protective custody, without specifying which, and the citation to attend the hearing called for 30 July 2012 at ten in the morning.

Rio Zaza Food S.A., a packaging industry for dairy, juice, food and alcoholic beverage products, is approved for 15 years, beginning on 26 January 2001, and authorized to undertake direct and permanent commercial operations in the internal Cuban market.

Max Marambio, a Chilean businessman of 63, is the co-proprietor in partnership with the Cuban government, of the Rio Zaza firm through his business, International Network Group (ING), also a Panamanian firm.

The conglomerate company, which did tens of millions of dollars annually in businesses related to Cuba, received renewals of its license in 2005 and 2008. In 2010 the license to operate was temporarily suspended and in 2011 it was canceled altogether.

Rio Zaza Food S.A, was subjected to an audit for irregularities in its management and linked to a corruption scandal involving Ofelia Liptak, its commercial director, and her husband, Rogelio Acevedo González, a General of the Cuban Revolution and former president of the Institute of Civil Aeronautics. On April 13, 2011, its General Manager, Chilean Roberto Baudrand, died in Havana after Cuban authorities prevented him from leaving the country.

Marambio,resident in Chile, was tried in absentia in March 2011 and sentenced to 20 years in prison in May of that year, for “bribery, fraud and falsification of bank or business documents, all of an ongoing nature” according to official notice in the official newspaper Granma.

In the process, also sentenced to 15 years in prison, was former Minister of Food Industry, Francisco Alejandro Roca Iglesias, for allowing himself to be corrupted, for favoring the businessman and for buying overpriced products for his consortium, causing serious damage to the Cuban economy.

Currently, the prices of products sold by Rio Zaza in hard currency State stores, rose between 5 and 15 cents in freely convertible currency in the internal Cuban market.

April 27 2012