KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — Chief Executive Officer of the Tourism Authority, Glen Beache on Wednesday described as “spurious, untrue and misleading at best” statements by Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, who on Monday called on Beache to resign, saying his involvement in a company marketing the country’s tourism “is a straight conflict of interest that will only lead to corruption”.
Beache also said on Wednesday that he had instructed his attorney to de-register the company — Lonsdale Advertising and Marketing Communication (SVG) Ltd. “I do this not because of any wrong doing, but only to obliviate the necessity to answer those who may seek to be malicious and mischievous in the future,” he said in a press statement.
Beache, who is also Marketing Manager of the Tourism Authority, said there was no conflict of interest and neither he nor my wife has profited in any way from the company, although it shares directors with Lonsdale Saatchi and Saatchi, which market St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) tourism.
He said the Tourism Authority awarded the marketing contract to Lonsdale Saatchi and Saatchi in Mid-2006 “on the basis of their tender and subsequent presentation, since they best represented the expectations of the Ministry”.
Beache noted that Lonsdale (SVG) Ltd. did not exist when the contract was awarded and was set four years later.
“I maintain the highest principles standards in my personal and professional life,” said Beache, who is also Marketing Manager of the Tourism Authority and a former Minister of Tourism.
At a press conference on Monday, Eustace questioned Beache’s ability, as CEO of the Tourism Authority, to supervise marketers of SVG tourism when that marketing firm shares directors with Beache’s company.
“Can he have an arm’s-length approach to dealing with this matter when two of the directors are on his own company and he calls it his sister company? Is this in the best interest of tourism development in our country?” Eustace said.
Eustace’s “sister company” reference was in relation to official documents lodged as part of Beache’s company, which the tourism executive said “has only existed and continues to exist only in name and no more”.
Beache said that if the company “had taken the step to engage in trade then there would have been collaboration” with Lonsdale Saatchi and Saatchi.
He said that on July 25, 2007, his attorney registered Executive Automobiles Inc. with himself and his wife as directors.
On May 7, 2010, the company’s name was amended to Lonsdale Advertising and Marketing Communication (SVG) Ltd. and its function changed from “motor vehicle dealership; rentals, leasing and services relating thereto, repairs, maintenance of vehicles, sales of parts and services relating thereto” to “Marketing, Public relations and Communication”.
In addition to Beache and his wife, Simone Keizer-Beache, the directors of the new company were Kenrick C. Attale, and Christine M. James.
Beache, who opted out of politics ahead of the general elections last December, said the company was “formed purely as a possible business option and an entry into the private sector for my life after active politics”.
He, however, said that after Lonsdale (SVG) Ltd. was set up, it has not engaged in nor attempted to engage in any form of trade or business. There is no bank account in the company’s name and that there has never been any transfer of assets or liabilities between Lonsdale (SVG) Ltd. and any other company, Beache said.
Beache said that after becoming CEO of the Tourism Authority, he could have been advised “to have the company struck off the register”.
This was not done because the company “has never been engaged in any business or transaction of any sort and had absolutely no intention of so doing” and Beache kept the company registered so that he could change the name should he want to set up another company.
He said the registration of this company in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has never been a secret and was publicly disclosed at a press conference on March 29, 2011.
Beache said that the Tourism Authority’s marketing and public relations plan is zoned into three regions — Europe, North America, and the Caribbean — and after receiving tenders from all three zones, companies are asked to make presentations, which are evaluated by the Tourism Authority’s marketing team and other senior members of staff.
He also said that this year, Lonsdale Saatchi and Saatchi and Four BGB submitted proposals on a social media plan and Four BGB’s was selected because they “proved to be the company better equipped to do the job”, although their proposals were more expensive.
Beache also responded to Eustace’s question about $75,000 paid to an artist management company in Barbados. He said the monies were for sponsorship of the music video for the “Beast Let Go” performed by Gamal “Skinny Fabulous” Doyle.
He said the cost was disclosed at the launch of this initiative and the video was sponsored “as a push for carnival and to enhance the marketing of our destination with the assistance of a local artist, since this song — the “Beast Let Go” — had gained immense popularity in the region.
“Really, it is the same approach used by Jamaica with the music of Bob Marley and more recently by Barbados through the use of the music of Rhianna,” Beache said.