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Inspectors to visit mysterious Kulevi2010-11-01 16:47
Already at the time of construction Kulevi oil terminal was wrapped in a gauze of mystery. Recently when Labor party members accused presidents of Georgia and Azerbaijan of having misappropriated the lion's share of profits, inspectors represented by Moody International, an independent agency, decided to come to Kulevi. What is this check-up for and what does it have in store for Mikheil Saakashvili?
Kulevi oil terminal owned by SOCAR (Azerbaijan) expects external audit. The independent company in charge of the check-up is Moody International. In October the terminal was subject to internal control of process compliance with ISO standard. The results were acknowledged as satisfying proving that the integrated management system is aimed to ensure high customer satisfaction and security of SOCAR operations.
Moody International will start rooting up Kulevi terminal's accounting books and reports in November. Until now no discrepancy with the standards has been found. Nonetheless, the audit checkup in itself is suggestive since it was announced immediately after the statement made by the Labor Party that Mikheil Saakashvili and Azerbaijani leader Ilkham Aliev are eating up most of the profits.
The Labor party was particularly hard on current president of Georgia. Besides, it is really difficult to deny that construction of Kulevi oil terminal was a mysterious affair. At first the project's operator was Georgian Railway, recently sold off to foreign investors at NYSE, and Argomar Oil, a private Austrian company. Two years later both companies were hit by serious financial difficulties and the "construction project of the century" was transferred to Badri Patarkatsishvili.
It should be clear which way the wind was blowing: a syndicate was created between the late businessman and the Austrian company on a parity basis; other entrepreneurs - from Georgia and abroad - got more active too. Nearly USD 150 mln were infused in the project. Already then it was clear that the future oil terminal had an attractive profit outlook.
Late in 2006 Badri Patarkatsishvili sold the terminal to the Azerbaijani state oil company that contributed other USD 350 mln to complete construction. It was rumored then that Georgia's ministry of economic development headed by Kakha Bendukidze sets artificial obstacles to postpone the terminal's commissioning.