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Chilean businessman found dead in Cuba

By David Ariosto, CNN
  • Roberto Baudrand had been questioned in probe of his company, Cuba says
  • He'd been asked not to leave Cuba during corruption probe of Rio Zaza Food
  • Autopsy found mix of pharmaceutical drugs and alcohol in Baudrand's blood
  • Cuba
  • Chile

Havana, Cuba (CNN) -- Chilean business executive Roberto Baudrand was found dead in his Havana apartment on Tuesday, the Cuban government announced in a statement Friday.

Baudrand had been questioned as part of a corruption investigation surrounding the Rio Zaza Food Company in Cuba, where he was general manager.

An autopsy discovered a mix of pharmaceutical drugs and alcohol in his blood and concluded that the cause of death was acute respiratory failure, the government said.

Baudrand had been questioned by Cuban authorities as a part of a broader probe of Rio Zaza. According to the statement, a group of Chilean executives implicated in the investigation had left the country.

For the first time on Friday, Cuba confirmed a broader corruption probe, saying it was investigating "irregularities and violations of existing laws" involving Rio Zaza and its executives.

Cuba said Baudrand had been asked not to leave the country until the investigation was complete.

Baudrand's death and the accompanying investigation come on the heels of last month's replacement of Cuba's longtime aviation chief, Rogelio Acevedo.

While no official explanation was given for Acevedo's release, it prompted widespread speculation of corruption.

In an uncharacteristically critical article published on a state-sanctioned Web site on Monday, Cuban columnist Esteban Morales said corruption was a greater threat to the island nation than internal dissent, specifically noting Acevedo's dismissal.

"Corruption is the real counterrevolution," Morales wrote, cautioning against groups entrenched in the country's Communist system.

Cuba said it will continue its investigation of Rio Zaza. The company is a joint venture between the Cuban government and Chilean businessman Max Marambio, once considered a close ally of former Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Baudrand's body is expected to be returned to his home country on Sunday, Chilean state media reported.