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Archive for Georgia

Newsline: Tbilisi thief stole $160k from US embassy and got away with it

U.S. officials uncovered a fraud scheme that resulted in almost $160,000 being stolen from an embassy in eastern Europe over a five-year period, according to a new State Department report. The fraud was little more complicated than stealing from a cash register, but poor security controls at the U.S. Embassy in Georgia allowed it to continue from 2010 to 2014. In total, $159,700 was lost, “likely due to the misappropriation of cash” from the retail store safe by a former employee, according to an audit. The loss of funds was hidden for years because the thief deleted receipts from the accounting records in order to cover up the shortages. “The deleted transactions were cash sales, and the deletions often occurred many weeks or months after the dates of sale,” the State Department’s Office of Inspector General explained. The identity of the thief was obscured by the number of people who had access to the accounting software. The inspector general noted that the commissary employees, as well as the government employees who comprise a board that oversees the embassy employee association, all used the same administrator account to access the accounting software. The scam started small, with $8,700 stolen in 2010. That figure rose to $46,100 by 2012. Investigators “could not determine” who carried out the fraud, so the inspector general was confined to outlining proposals for preventing it from happening in the future, such as limiting the cash on hand at the commissary.



Newsline: Georgia decries Russian Foreign Minister’s visit to Abkhazia to open embassy

Georgian Prime Minister’s special envoy for relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze has described the forthcoming visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Abkhazia to open embassy as an “encroachment on Georgia’s sovereignty.” Deputy Foreign Minister David Jalaganiya told reporters on his part Lavrov’s trip meant disregard for international principles and law. In August 2008, Russia recognized independence of Abkhazia and Sourth Ossetia, formerly two regions of Georgia that had been seeking independence for themselves since the early 1990’s.


Newsline: ‘Secret recording’ in Georgia enrages US ambassador

Even skilled diplomats sometimes stumble, especially when they think the microphones are off. U.S. Ambassador Richard Norland in the former Soviet republic of Georgia found himself sputtering in outrage over comments he made earlier this month to students at Tbilisi State University in the capital of the Black Sea nation. “This was a discussion with students. Actually it was off the record, and it was [a] secret recording,” he said in remarks posted on the U.S. Embassy website. Mr. Norland suggested the quotes that appeared in the Georgian media were taken out of content, but the damage was done. In his Nov. 15 address at the university, he complained about how the Georgian government treated residents of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which have been restive since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Responding to a student’s question about his opinion of the cauldron of tension in the region, Mr. Norland said: “If you ask me about my opinion, I can tell you that when I was in Georgia 20 years ago, I saw that Georgians were treating Abkhazians and Ossetians the same way as Russians were treating Georgians, and Georgia will have to apologize for mistakes of the past.” His remarks sparked protests from opposition politicians, while the government tried to play down the ambassador’s gaffe.


Newsline: Georgian Embassy in Washington offered for sale

New York-based DelShah Capital LLC is seeking buyers for the Embassy of Georgia building at 2209 Massachusetts Ave. NW as it plans its exit from D.C.’s commercial real estate market. DelShah has retained Greysteel LLC to market the historic 9,000-square-foot building by R and 22nd streets NW as an investment property. The Georgian Embassy is locked into a lease through January 2016, and the building is generating net operating income of about $288,900, according to Greysteel marketing data. Greysteel is marketing 2209 Mass to groups including other embassies. Built in 1911, the building was previously home to the United Arab Emirates and the Ukraine.


Newsline: Georgia opens embassy in Jakarta to boost ties

Georgia, a small state in the South Caucasus, recently opened an embassy in Jakarta. Indonesia’s trade, according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), has been growing in double digits. In 2012, bilateral trade between the two countries surged to US$58.75 million, a 41.69 percent increase from $40.93 million in 2011.


Newsline: Georgian Ambassador to U.S. to Resign

Temur Yakobashvili, who has served as Georgia’s ambassador to the United States for past two years, said he was going to resign. “I am sure that Georgia’s new government should be represented in Washington by a new ambassador,” Yakobashvili wrote on his Facebook page. Yakobashvili, who was State Minister for Reintegration from January, 2008 till November, 2010, said he had already informed the Foreign Ministry about his decision to step down and added that he would spend next few months in “civilized transfer” of duties.


Newsline: Georgia embassy bomb had foreign origin

Georgia’s Interior Ministry is looking into a foreign trace in the search for those responsible for placing a bomb in front of Israel’s Embassy in Tbilisi in February. There are no further details about the investigation. On February 13, police reported about finding an artificial explosive device under the car of the embassy’s chauffeur, Roman Khachaturian. The interior ministry said the bomb was immediately deactivated. The same day a bomb exploded outside Israel’s Embassy in Delhi in India.