Feb 14, 1979 • 1725 • Georgetown-State • 0699

[Editor’s note: This text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1979GEORGE00699_e.html.]

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E.O. 12065: NA
TAGS: CASC, GY (PEOPLES TEMPLE)
SUBJ: LEGAL ACTION FILED BY GOG AGAINST PEOPLES TEMPLE AND DISPOSITION OF PEOPLES TEMPLE PROPERTY IN GUYANA

REF: A. STATE 14147 B. STATE 36840 C. GEORGETOWN 634

1. DCM DISCUSSED POINTS RAISED PARAGRAPH 3 REF B WITH ATTORNEY GILLETTE FEB 13. GILLETTE WILL LOOK INTO QUERIES FURTHER. HIS INITIAL RESPONSE FOLLOW: KEYED TO PARA 3 OF REF B:

A. GILLETTE QUOTED GUYANESE LAW AS PROVIDING THAT “ALL PERSONS MAY BE JOINED IN AN ACTION A PLAINTIFF IN WHOM THE RIGHT TO RELIEF IN RESPECT OF OR ARISING OUT OF THE SAME TRANSACTION OR SERIES OF TRANSACTIONS IS ALLEGED TO EXIST WHETHER JOINTLY, SEVERALLY, OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE WHERE IF SUCH PERSONS BROUGH SEPARATE ACTIONS ANY COMMON QUESTION OF LAW OR FACT WOULD ARISE.” ALL PLAINTIFFS (I.E., GOG AND GOUYANA AIR) OF COURSE, WOULD HAVE TO AGREE TO OTHERS JOINING THE ACTION. THE DEFENDANTS MAY DEMAND SEPARATE TRIALS.

B. GILLETTE COULD NOT THINK, OFFHAND, OF ANY PRECEDENT IN GUYANA WHERE A SOVERIGN [SOVEREIGN] FOREIGN GOVERNMENT BECAME A

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PLAINTIFF IN THE GUYANESE LEGAL SYSTEM. HE IS CHECKING TO SEE WHETHER THIS MIGHT BE POSSIBLE AND, IF SO, WHAT PROCEDURES SHOULD BE FOLLOWED.

C. GILLETTE STATES THAT IT IS HIS OPINION THAT A CASE OF THIS TYPE CAN BE BROUGHT TO THE HIGH COURT ANY TIME WITHIN THREE YEARS OF THE OCCURRENCE OF THE TRANSACTION. GILLETTE STRESSED, HOWEVER, THAT THE AWARD OF DAMAGES BY THE COURT WILL GO TO THOSE WHO FIRST SEEK ENFORCEMENT OF A FAVORABLE JUDGMENT. THUS IF A PLAINTIFF WINS HIS SUIT AND IS THE FIRST TO SEEK ENFORCEMENT OF THE ORDER, AND IF THE ORDER IS EQUAL TO OR EXCEEDS IN VALUE THE ASSETS OF THE DEFENDANT, A SUBSEQUENT PLAINTIFF, EVEN THOUGH HE WINS HIS CASE AND HAS REQUESTED ENFORCEMENT OF THE COURT ORDER, WILL RECEIVE NO MATERIAL REDRESS. IN SUM, THE ASSETS OF THE DEFENDANT ARE NOT DIVIDED PROPORTIONATELY AMONG THE SUCCESSFUL PLAINTIFFS BUT ARE DISTRIBUTED ON A “FIRST-COME” BASIS.

2. GILLETTE ALSO PROVIDED SOME ORAL RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS RAISED IN REF A. WRITTEN RESPONSES ARE TO FOLLOW. ANSWERS ARE KEYED TO PARAGRAPH 12 OF REF A. A. NOV 18 EVENTS AT JONESTOWN AND DEATH OF FOUR OUT OF FIVE DIRECTORS DID NOT, IN GILLETTE’S JUDGEMENT, RESULT IN A DE FACTO DISSOLUTION OF THE 1975 CHARTER. GILLETTE ADDS THAT THE PARENT CORPORATION COULD ALSO APPOINT ADDITIONAL DIRECTORS, A POINT WHICH HE SAID L/ARA FORTUNE WAS LOOKING INTO. B. CORPORATION NOT CONSIDERED DISSOLVED. C. A RECEIVER ACTING BY ORDER OF THE CALIFORNIA COURT WOULD NOT BE RECOGNIZED IN GUYANA, EXCEPT, POSSIBLY, IF SOME PROVISION OF THE PARENT CORPORATION’S CHARTER SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED FOR THIS. THE CALIFORNIA COURT APPOINTED RECEIVER COULD ALSO BE APPOINTED RECEIVER IN GUYANA, HOWEVER. RECEIVER IN GUYANA NEED NOT BE GUYANESE CITIZEN.

D.WHETHER OR NOT GUYANETEZVQNMZHVULD# BE

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JUSTIFIED IN TREATING THE PEOPLES TEMPLE AS DISSOLVED WOULD DEPEND ON THE CALIFORNIA ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION, GILLETTE SAYS, BUT IN ALL PROBABILITY THE ANSWER IS YES. E. GILLETTE STATES THAT IN GUYANA DOCTRINE OF BONA BACANTIA APPLIES, WHICH HE DEFINES AS BEING FOR ORGANIZATIONS WHAT ESCHEAT IS FOR INDIVIDUALS. F. GILLETTE CANNOT FIND ANY REASON WHY CURRENCY SHOULD BE FORFEITED TO THE STATE IN THE ABSENCE OF A TRIAL AND CONVICTIION(EXCEPT AS CONTRABAND) BUT IS STILL LOOKING. HE THINKS CURRENCY WOULD BE TREATED IN SAME FASHION AS OTHER ASSETS. G. GILLETTE STATES GOG HAS NO PROVISION IN LAW TO OBTAIN ACCESS TO BANK RECORDS EXCEPT INSOFAR AS GOG HAS INSTITUTED PROCEEDINGS IN WHICH CASE THE GOG MAY APPLY TO THE COURT TO OBTAIN COPIES OF ANY ENTRIES TO BANKERS’ BOOKS FOR PURPOSES RELATING TO THE MATTER. COMMENT: GOG HAS INSTITUTED PROCEEDINGS, AND CAN NOW PROCEED TO GET COPIES OF ENTRIES UPON COURT ORDER.

3. GILLETTE STATED, INCIDENTALLY, THAT EMBASSY ASSUMPTION REF C THAT FIGURES OF G$500 USED BY GOG TO INSURE CASE GOES TO HIGH COURT IS CORRECT.

NOTE BY OC/T: GEORGETOWN 699/1 #PARA 2 AS RECEIVED; CORRECTION TO FOLLOW.

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4. COMMENT: WITH REGARD TO THE QUESTION OF LEGAL ASSISTANCE SHOULD THE USG DECIDE TO PURSUE THE MATTER IN THE GUYANESE COURTS, IT IS OUR UNDERSTANDING THAT WE WOULD REQUIRE BOTH A SOLICITOR (E.G., GILLETTE OR ANOTHER) AND A BARRISTER. L/ARA MR. FORTUNE IS AWARE OF THE RATHER DIFFICULT PROCESS OF ELIMINATION WE WENT THROUGH TO SELECT GILLETTE DUE TO THE FACT THAT LEGAL COUNSEL SHOULD HAVE NO PREVIOUS CONNECTION WITH THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE AND NOT BE A WELL-KNOWN POLITICAL OPPONENT OF THE GOG. THE SAME CRITIERIA WILL OBVIOUSLY APPLY TO ANY BARRISTER TO BE SELECTED TO REPRESENT THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. SECONDLY, BEFORE ANY DISCUSSION WITH GOG OFFICIALS TAKES PLACE, FULL CONSIDERATION MUST BE GIVEN TO THE FACT THAT WHATEVER ACTION WE TAKE MAY WELL BE AN IMPORTANT PRECEDENT. WHAT WOULD BE USG POSITION SHOULD GOG SEEK TO JOIN USG IN CALIFORNIA ACTION AGAINST PEOPLE’S TEMPLE? COULD GOG ON ITS OWN SEEK RECOUPMENT OF COSTS INCURRED DUE TO ACTIONS OF THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE IN GUYANA FROM THE TEMPLE’S PARENT ORGANIZATION IN CALIFORNIA? WOULD USG BE SETTING PRECEDENT WHICH MIGHT BE UNDESIRABLE IN THE FUTURE IN REGARDS TO OTHER SITUATIONS? WE HAVE HEARD FROM USUALLY RELIABLE SOURCES THAT THE GOG’S INITIAL ESTIMATES OF ITS EXPENSES BROUGHT ABOUT BY JONESTOWN MAY BE VERY HIGH AND MIGHT EXCEED TOTAL VALUE OF ASSETS PRESENTLY LOCATED IN GUYANA. WE BELIEVE THAT WITH THE FILING OF THE LEGAL ACTION BY THE GOG AND THE MYRIAD LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS THERBY [THEREBY] RAISED, THE TIME IS

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OPPORTUNE FOR MR. FORTUNE OR ANOTHER REPRESENTATIVE OF L/ (OR PERHAPS JUSTICE) TO VISIT GEORGETOWN TO ADVISE ON IMPLEMENTATION OF WHATEVER ACTION IS DECIDED UPON. INCIDENTALLY, GILLIETTE EXPECTS TO BE OUT OF THE COUNTRY FOR ABOUT TEN DAYS AROUND THE END OF THE MONTH.

BURKE

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Originally posted on October 22nd, 2020.

Last modified on December 30th, 2020.
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