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Democratic donor released from custody in Republic of Georgia

June 17, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Democratic donor Roger Tamraz was released from custody in the Republic of Georgia three days after his arrest on an embezzlement charge related to a failed bank he once headed in Lebanon.

The State Department said Monday that Tamraz, the focus of allegations that he offered political donations to pressure the Clinton administration to support his plans for an oil pipeline, was detained last Friday on an embezzlement charge lodged by the Lebanese government.

But Tamraz was released from custody in Tbilisi on Monday and is free to leave the country because he is not charged with violating any laws there, said State Department spokeswoman Elaine McDevitt.

``We’ve have taken no position on the extradition request for Mr. Tamraz from the government of Lebanon,″ she said.

The 1989 warrant issued by a Lebanese court charges Tamraz with embezzling $200 million in connection with the collapse of a bank he once headed. Tamraz was arrested on a warrant issued by Interpol, the international police agency.

A federal grand jury is investigating whether Tamraz offered to make donations to the Democratic Party in return for a Clinton administration review of his pipeline project.

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