LONDON, England: A marketing executive for the Bahamas Tourist Board set up a sideline of cheap holidays to the island, but using his bosses’ money.
Alexei King, 40, was jailed for 15 months on Friday after it was revealed he turned to fraud to support an on-line gambling addiction.
King, of Appledore Road, Bedford, was taken on by the tourist board in 1999 and as part of his work he had a budget to arrange trips to the Bahamas for people who could then promote the island as a holiday destination.
Prosecutor Bozzy Sheffi told Luton Crown Court that for several years he worked well and successfully but last year he began his fraud.
One aspect was to arrange trips for ordinary people who would pay him personally about a third of the actual cost. The tourist board was unwittingly picking up the tab.
Towards the end of the year he was arranging trips for 2008 and was approaching people who had travelled before, suggesting if they made up a party of ten they could have a free place.
Many people paid up front but the fraud was uncovered before the holidays took place.
Miss Sheffi said the tourist board compensated everyone who had lost money and they had lost £26,450 through King’s dishonesty.
King pleaded guilty to three charges of fraud and two of theft and asked for 16 similar offences to be taken into consideration.
Derek Johashen, defending, said: “This is a tragedy for a proud man who has fallen from grace. He saw himself as an ambassador for The Bahamas and had everything going for him. He feels he has disgraced those he was promoting.
“His gambling had gripped him and he tried to deal with the problem but the debt did not go away.
“He knew for several months that he was going to be arrested but he did not run away and remained to face the music.”
Judge Barbara Mensah said: “The sheer dishonesty cannot be ignored.
Your breach of trust had an impact on the standing of those who employed you and on their finances.”