WASHINGTON (AP). The State Department’s internal watchdog said Thursday that a nearly $ 6,000 bottle of Japanese whiskey, a gift from former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, was missing.
The department’s inspector general also said the “gift vault,” which houses gifts given to senior US officials, was found in a “state of disarray” when the Biden administration took power in January. It says new precautions and controls are needed to ensure that gifts to senior US officials are properly accounted for.
In his report, the inspector general said he could not find a bottle of $ 5,800 30-year-old Suntory Hibiki whiskey, donated by Pompeo by the Japanese government in 2019, or a $ 560 commemorative 22-karat gold coin. The items were reported missing in August in a notification filed with the Federal Register.
At the time, a spokesman for Pompeo said the former secretary was unaware of the gift or request from the inspector general.
It was later revealed that the $ 20,000 collection of porcelain and copper vases purchased by the US government as gifts to leaders planning to attend the G7 summit before it was canceled was also missing. The inspector general said the vases, as well as an unspecified number of G-7 commemorative pewter trays, marble trinket boxes and leather briefcases, each worth $ 680, were found in a warehouse.
“OIG found the missing vases (all of which were stored and for which the Department never accepted delivery),” the report said. “However, OIG was unable to determine what happened to the other items, including the gold coin and the whiskey. OIG was unable to track the items due to the lack of an inventory system that would account for the placement of the items and the fact that there are no surveillance cameras outside the gift vault. ”
It says records show 77 people entered the vault 3,051 times between August 3, 2020 and January 31, 2021. Many of these people had left the government by the time the inspector general began his investigation and were not allowed make them talk about their actions or access to the store, the message says.
The Inspector General’s report recommends that the Department of State strengthen the security of the gift vault and determine whether CCTV cameras should be placed on site.