Vinicio Alvarado Espinel’s relationship with the advertising market also left its mark on the Ministry of Tourism. One of the men closest to former President Rafael Correa, led that State portfolio between June 2013 and July 2014. A contract audited by the Comptroller General’s office highlights part of the management of the ‘Ecuador Potencia Turística’ campaign.
The story is simple. In December 2013, the ministry authorized a private company to carry out the radio campaign guidelines for the tourist campaign, which coincided with the carnival holiday. The guideline was present, says the advertising company, for 11 weeks on 97 stations. The company charged $ 823,366.03.
The problem? The ministry did not comply with the normal contracting process, but it was settled through a ‘payment agreement’. Mechanism that is supposed to be of exceptional use.
How did the former officials explain this hiring? The director of Image and Promotion of the time said that it was not her decision, although it was justified by saying that it was a “standard practice”. And, according to her, in this specific case “due to the experience and evident influence of the minister with the advertising agencies of the country, the technical specifications and the final report of the supplier never came” into his hands.
Alvarado’s relationship with the advertising sector is not unknown. He is the main shareholder of Creacional S.A., with 98.57%. The remaining 1.43% is owned by the ex-official’s mother. In seven years, the revenues of that firm were only upwards: they went from 9.8 million to 24.3 million.
That relationship, as well as the connection with 13 other people and companies, was investigated by the Financial Analysis Unit, which, in February, raised an operational report with inconsistencies. The case is in the hands of the Prosecutor’s Office that called Vinicio and his brother Fernando Alvarado Espinel to testify. In that statement, they assured that there was nothing irregular in their financial movements.
Administratively, in the case of the ‘Ecuador Potencia Turística’ campaign, the Comptroller General believes that Alvarado, although he delegated to his financial administrative coordinator everything related to public procurement, is responsible for the lack of control in the ministry.
The bad thing, according to the audit DNA2-0024-2018, is that this practice of resorting to payment agreements was also used to cancel $ 395,879.28 to another advertising company for the dissemination of the spot ‘Ecuador Potencia Turística’ and ‘ All you need is Ecuador ‘during the 2014 World Cup broadcasts. In this case, the responsibility fell to Sandra Naranjo, Alvarado’s successor and also to former president Correa.
The auditors say that, having ignored the legal hiring process, Tourism could not guarantee transparency.
Add to that an additional problem. Like the Ministry of Finance (which does not have a complete and orderly archive of public debt operations), the Ministry of Tourism has documentation of its contracts. That, according to the Comptroller, complicates the analysis of the expenses made by that State portfolio.
The contract: In 2014, the director of Tourist Information was among those who awarded a contract to Androide Communications, owned by his first cousin.
Unfulfilled: The contract amounted to $ 85,833. Tourism requested unilateral termination after the products were not delivered.
Fines: For the breach, fines were generated for $ 125,316. The ministry did not, says the report, any management to collect them. (I)