State Department says whereabouts of $5,800 whiskey gift from Japan to Pompeo in 2019 still unknown
By Bryan Ke
November 8, 2021
On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) said it still could not find a missing bottle of $5,800 whiskey that the Japanese government allegedly gifted to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2019.
The mystery: The gift, said to be a bottle of 30-year-old Suntory Hibiki whiskey, was first reported missing from the “gift vault” in August, according to Japan Today. This vault houses presents meant for senior U.S. officials.
- Another item from the vault that remains missing is a $560 22-karat gold commemorative coin.
- In the report, the OIG said it was “unable to determine what happened to the other items, including the gold coin and the whiskey.” The office also added that it “could not trace the items because of the lack of an inventory system to account for the disposition of items and the fact that there are no security cameras outside the gift vault.”
- The vault was in “a state of disarray” when the Biden administration took over in January, the OIG said in its report. About 77 people reportedly entered the vault more than 3,000 times between Aug. 3, 2020, and Jan. 31, 2021, records revealed. However, several of the people in question already left the government even before the investigation began.
- American officials are only allowed to receive and keep gifts if they are worth less than $390, The New York Times reported. If the appraised value exceeds this, the official must reportedly pay for the gift.
- The OIG suggested heightening gift vault security and potentially using security cameras.
No recollection: Speaking through lawyer William A. Burck, Pompeo said he has no knowledge of receiving the alleged gift as well as its investigation. He was also reportedly in Saudi Arabia on the day he was given the whiskey.
- “I have no idea how the State Department lost this thing, although I saw enormous incompetence at the State Department during my time there,” Pompeo told Fox News in August. “Had it been a case of Diet Coke, I’d have been all over it. I had no idea that [this] was missing, that there was an investigation….”
- Suntory Whisky launched Hibiki in 1989 to celebrate its 90th anniversary, the company said on its website. “Hibiki Whiskey is not only Japan’s most highly awarded blended whiskey, but among the most prestigious and honored whiskeys in the world,” the company claims.
Featured Image via Pixabay
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