Cuba seeks long prison terms in egg corruption case

AP News
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Posted: Mar 13, 2015 2:36 PM

HAVANA (AP) — Cuban prosecutors are seeking prison terms of eight to 20 years for nearly two dozen people suspected of conspiring to steal millions of eggs for sale on the black market, official media reported Friday.

Communist Party newspaper Granma said the 19 suspects are accused of food theft, generating fraudulent receipts and other crimes. They include several executives of the state-run egg distribution company in Havana as well as accountants, drivers and other workers.

The article, which took up a page and a half in Friday's edition, said more than 8 million eggs were diverted to the black market between January and October 2012. It added that the company's economic loss was an estimated $356,000.

"It is certain that the sentences, although severe, do not solve the problem on their own," the paper said. "On occasions it is necessary for evildoers to feel the full weight of the law, in addition to shame in front of family and society."

President Raul Castro has made a point of cracking down on corruption, which has long flourished in Cuba, with dozens of government officials and foreign businesspeople swept up in high-profile graft cases in recent years.

Even more common is for low-level workers to pilfer goods from the workplace for swap or sale to supplement meager state salaries that average about $20 a month.

Cuba also provides citizens with a monthly ration card that meets part of their dietary needs, including eggs.