Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for Canada

Newsline: Audits on ‘higher fraud-risk’ Canadian embassies find undocumented payments

The audits in Nigeria, Algeria, Russia, India and Kenya were ordered after a probe found Canada’s embassy in Haiti was defrauded of $1.7M over 12 years. Audits of five Canadian embassies operating in “higher fraud-risk environments” have found cases of questionable procurement practices, undocumented payments for work, and sky-high levels of overtime for drivers. The audits were ordered after a 2016 investigation discovered that Canada’s embassy in Haiti was defrauded of $1.7 million over 12 years through inflated supply contracts and diverted materials. The government fired 17 locally recruited employees over the case. Management audits were conducted on Canadian embassies in Nigeria, Algeria, Russia, India and Kenya, as well as on Canada’s embassy in South Korea as a low-risk environment for comparison purposes. The audit on the Nigeria embassy was the most damning, concluding that protocols around “finance, procurement, contracting, revenues, and asset management were not consistently followed and some key controls were not in place or were circumvented.” Several dubious payments were found, including one case where the contract was signed after the work had already commenced, another where the overtime was paid at a higher rate than in the contract, and another where the value of the contract was “significantly exceeded without a contract amendment.”

Audits on ‘higher fraud-risk’ Canadian embassies find undocumented payments, ballooning overtime costs

Advertisements

Newsline: Kurds across Canada demonstrate in front of US Embassy offices

The Kurdish diaspora across Canada on Tuesday demonstrated in front of the United States Embassy offices, calling on Washington to break its silence as Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia militias continue to attack Peshmerga. In the Canadian capital of Ottawa, the Kurdish diaspora gathered in front of the Canadian Parliament building before marching toward the US Embassy. The peaceful rally, organized by the Kurdish Association of Canada, was meant to bring attention to the recent injustices against Kurdistan at the hands of the Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia.

http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/c58fa342-86af-4bef-a108-5451f2f03526

Newsline: Canada says has no plans to remove embassy staff from Cuba

Canada has no plans to change its travel advice for Cuba or to remove any Canadian staff from its embassy there, though some staff have experienced some unusual symptoms, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Friday. “Some of our diplomatic staff and their family members started to experience unusual symptoms in March 2017, including earaches, dizziness and headaches,” said Adam Austen. “All of the personnel who experienced symptoms underwent testing in Canada and the U.S. and the cause of the symptoms remains unknown. We have been working closely with Cuban authorities to ascertain the cause. We continue to monitor the situation closely and we have no plans to travel advice or remove any staff,” Austen added. The United States on Friday cut its diplomatic presence in Cuba by more than half and warned U.S. citizens not to visit because of mysterious “attacks” that have caused hearing loss, dizziness and fatigue in U.S. embassy personnel.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-cuba-canada/canada-says-has-no-plans-to-remove-embassy-staff-from-cuba-idUSKCN1C430Z?il=0

Newsline: Police give all-clear after bomb threat at Canadian embassy in Berlin

German police said on they had given the all-clear after employees of the Canadian embassy in Berlin evacuated their building because they had received a bomb threat. The Canadian embassy alerted police of the threat but police determined it was not to be taken seriously and employees then re-entered the building, a police spokesman said. He added that police had not ordered the embassy to be evacuated. No one at the embassy was immediately available to comment.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-canada/police-give-all-clear-after-bomb-threat-at-canadian-embassy-in-berlin-idUSKCN1BA0UZ

Newsline: Canadian pastor freed from North Korean prison after efforts from Swedish embassy

Relatives of a Canadian pastor released this week after more than two years in a North Korean prison say he is “on his way home” and they are anxious to be reunited with him. The Korean Central News Agency reported that North Korea’s central court had decided to free Hyeong Soo Lim, who was serving a life sentence for anti-state activities. The pastor’s release was described as “sick bail,” but no other details were given. In a statement Thursday, a spokeswoman for his family said “there is a long way to go” in terms of Lim’s healing and stressed the need for privacy as he receives unspecified medical attention. Lisa Pak also said the family is grateful to the Canadian government and the Swedish embassy in North Korea for working behind the scenes to secure the pastor’s freedom. She did not say when he was scheduled to arrive in Canada.

Canadian pastor freed from North Korean prison after efforts from Swedish embassy: family

Newsline: Canada gifts former US embassy to tribes

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday gifted a former American embassy directly across the street from parliament to Canada’s more than 600 tribes, in a symbolic rapprochement with indigenous peoples. He also ordered that a nearby building housing his offices be stripped of its name, Langevin Block, which is associated with the “cultural genocide” of Canadian aboriginals. The former embassy handover on a national day celebrating the country’s aboriginal population “symbolizes a turning point in Canada’s relationship with indigenous peoples,” a statement said. How indigenous groups will use the building is still undetermined. Suggestions include designating it as a public space for aboriginal art and cultural events, or as a base for lobbying the government. The 1930s Beaux-Arts building — designed by the same American architect who conceived of Washington’s neoclassical Supreme Court headquarters — has sat empty for 19 years, since diplomats moved to a new building a few blocks away. A former Liberal government planned in 2001 to turn it into a portrait gallery, but that idea was quashed by a subsequent Tory administration. Though the mahogany paneling, marble walls and an original 1930s elevator are intact, the building will still need a full renovation. There are holes in the walls and wires dangling from the ceiling, the result of demolition work done in preparation for its use as a portrait gallery.

https://www.nst.com.my/world/2017/06/251287/trudeau-gifts-former-us-embassy-canadas-tribes

Newsline: U.S. punishes American firm after its Canadian subsidiary leases cars to Cuban embassy in Ottawa

U.S. President Donald Trump rolled back some of the key measures of his predecessor’s rapprochement with Cuba, making it harder for American tourists to travel to the island, and harder for American corporations to do business there. That move was immediately met with a rebuke from Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. But as a recent case in Ottawa illustrates, American sanctions against Cuba don’t only affect Americans or American businesses. The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control announced it had reached a settlement with the American Honda Finance Corporation — the institution that finances the sale and leases of Hondas and Acuras in North America. The civil liability settlement requires the company to hand over $87,255 US for violating the sanctions. The American Honda Finance Corporation is based in California, and the fine will likely be paid in the U.S., but the transaction that brought it on occurred in Canada. The cause of the dispute is a series of 13 lease agreements between Honda Canada Finance, Inc. — a majority-owned subsidiary of the American Honda Finance Corporation — and the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa. According to a notice published by the U.S. Treasury, the 13 leases were signed between Feb. 2011 and March 2014. Under U.S. law, the fact that a U.S. company was a majority shareholder of Honda Canada Finance makes the transaction subject to U.S. sanctions — even though both the lessor and the lessee were in Canada. In a statement, the Cuban government argued that the fine “not only hampers the work of Cuban diplomats in a third country, but also harms Canadian citizens and companies that maintain relations with Cuban entities.” Brittany Venhola-Fletcher of Global Affairs Canada told CBC News the sanction constitutes interference with a Canadian business transaction. “Canada has consistently opposed the extraterritorial application of United States sanctions, which interfere with the right of Canadian companies to conduct their business in a manner consistent with international trade practice and the laws of Canada.” The U.S. Embassy in Ottawa referred CBC to the U.S. Treasury Department in Washington, which did not return calls about the sanction. It’s not clear whether the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa still leases vehicles from Honda.

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/u-punishes-american-firm-canadian-090000381.html