Angostura Holdings has confirmed that its CEO Robert Wong has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation into integrity of the company’s rums.
The suspension follows a local press report that the company’s rum production was being “audited”.
The Trinidad Express reported on 3 December that Angostura has been importing bulk rum concentrates from Latin America and the Caribbean, processing and distilling it, but without adding substantial local value such as aging of the rums before repackaging it for export.
This action, if true, would be in breach of European Union’s rules of Origin with regards to rum blending integrity, and raise questions about the company’s age claims for its rum blends, according to board documents from the company.
Mr. Wong was put on administrative leave in September following the board’s discovery of the alleged impropriety. According to the Trinidad Sunday Express, Wong was officially sent on administrative leave on 1 December.
Mr. Wong has denied any wrong doing.
“I won’t comment just yet. I am not guilty of anything. It’s unfortunate. I am not sure what the motivation is. I understand the present board wanted a changing of the guard and we had discussed it, but that action didn’t go through,” he said when contacted.
In the interim, the company’s Executive Manager of Export and Business Development, Genevieve Johan has been put in charge as the acting Chief Executive. She has come out to refute the allegations, saying the company stands firmly behind the integrity of its international branded rum portfolio.
“The integrity of Angostura’s international branded rums is not under audit,” she said.
“All our international branded rum products are aged and meet international standards.”
The audit which is being conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) will take eight weeks to complete.