Temple Leaders Propose Financial Transfers, Bank Accounts with USSR, late October

[Editor’s notes: The transcript of this document retains its original spellings, with corrections noted only where necessary for clarity.]

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[Undated note, likely late October 1978 in context]

[Handwritten note at the top of page: “CL [Carolyn Layton] write up”]

JIM ONLY PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU MAKE ANY FINAL DECISIONS ON ANYTHING IN FINANCE

– Clifford [code for Soviet consul Fedor Timofeyev] was helpful in that he said they would try to get an investment which would yield a higher interest, because of our humanitarian nature they would not be treating us as capitalists. However, he stressed the dollar is in bad shape and that is one reason why interest on it is not that great. He was surprised at the high interest rates we are getting on it right now. He said we can’t really change it into reuples [rubles] because there is a problem in giving reuples back into dollars if we ever wanted to. He said if we put it in dollars, we can always get it back out in dollars. We can have any signatory we want. He did say Soviet bankers are doing business and are not going to do any changes (like we do changes) because of politicial changes. For example if we break a fixed time depoist we forfeit most all the interest. I said we understand that. He kind of said our crying or pleading would not make a difference in such things. He said something like bankers are bankers wherever – just that the money is used to better purposes. (this was after our pushing for better rates – tho he understood and said they would try to do so, etc. not treating us like they would capitalists.

– He has to know the exact, when, where, and how much of the situation before he gets any definitive answers and that means we have to just about get things precisely ready before we can get the answers we need. He said we must telex exact information in order to get exact answers, but he did not imply that it would take months to get answers if we could get exact information. He said they were acting more slowly since we had given the date of May as when we wanted to make the change and that they act accordingly. But if we wanted things sooner and provided the exact details I got the impression they would act faster.

– An interesting thing he found out from us is that we get interest here on our external savings and they don’t because they only have an external checking. They like to just write checks so don’t having internal accounts and thus they are losing money. In a way I think he respects us for our getting the most we can. They obviously have not looked into the avenues of saving money that we have, which was obvious to him. Also, about a month and a half ago the Soviets pulled money out of Guyana – I think due to impending inflation, or devaluation but they never told us. However, when we mentioned pulling the $1,000,000 out and investing there, he said “what have you heard” as if he thought we might know something they do not know. He does this fairly often as if we may know more about things than they do and apparently we did as far as how external accounts work. It was when we mentioned pulling our money that he mentioned they had pulled some of theirs.

– on Guyanese emigrating. I am sorry as I thought at 6 AM you gave me an instruction to mention guardianships and ask them if they have any ideas. We did not get into any long debates or into any arguments but I think you should know the following:

– the USSR has no immigration system – for Africans or Guyanese or just about anyone. In other words they have very very restricted immigration. They dont allow students to stay. He mentioned things like brain drain and all, but I still got the strong impression that they feel they cannot take a lot of foreigners in and provide a comprehensive care that they do to every citizen because of expense. In other words their commitment to the individual is so great that they cannot afford to allow for lots and lots of immigrants.

– he said you (your group) would be coming for political asylum and that is totally different from taking in Guyanese, because Guyana is a socialist country with which they have fairly good relations. But he basically was to get our [bottom line of page may be cut off]

 

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general issue (us) coming before getting to side issues. Though he did say on a case by case basis something may be worked out but that they could not classify Guyanese immigrants as coming for political asylum for obvious reasons. On children – he wants all documents in order first. He was emphatic on that and we did not argue – just discussed in general. He did not seem favorable to guardianship, but rather felt adoption would be far better.

– he said naturally there would be no problem for little John [Victor Stoen] in coming in no matter what papers we did or did not have for him. We assured him that we had papers for all of our other American children. I think he may have thought we did not have for some of them.

– He listened to the part about our internal security system and a person associating with people in the conspiracy. He didn’t comment much, but just listened. I explained that you have to act quickly sometimes when you live if [in] fascism – especially if you have any indication the axe could fall. But it is not like living under the sceurity of socialism, etc. [Handwritten addition: “He said yes – but think deeply before you act quickly. We agreed.”]

– we asked about Americans receiving Social Security checks in the USSR. He does not know but will ask. We mentioned that the US brochure does not name the USSR as having people who receive them, but that they also were not on the prohibited list and we named the countries which were to him. He was interested in this (not in the money angle) just in which countries were prohibited for more political interests.

– the things he questioned us about most besiedes the exact specifics of what we wanted to do were: how did we get interest in our external accounts which MK [Maria Katsaris] explained? He thot they might be being descriminated against but then it turned out that they were using a system of convenience which was costing them more because they were not getting interest. We said don’t quote us – I am sure he won’t anyway for his own reasons. The other question was what I said on what we had heard on devaluation.

– his views on Guyana. The USSR wants to get along with Guyana and wants to have good realtions, doesn’t want to jeaopardize their relations.

– he aslo asked us the rationale we would use to get the money out of our external account which we explained as our continuing policy of buying equipment and things for the project in various countries. He said fine, just don’t say it’s because we all plan to move to the USSR. We said of course not. He said this kind of half serious.

– he did ask if we would be willing to send a courrier to carry or bring the money to wherever. I said we would. He then said something about a revolutionary woman doing this – and joked about the robberies in Gtown, how you could not wear a watch. It is obvious to us and maybe to him also that we are much more adventuresome than their conservative ways. I did not specify who would go exactly just implied someone would be willing to – obviously someone who is trusted in the small group in finances. But eventually he will have to know who in order to arrange a visa or letters of introduction or all that would precede such a trip. It might not be to the USSR, but rather to a bank and some other country. (a soviet owned bank)

– he kind of teased us about how we could not persuade a Soviet banker by tears or emotion – that they are very strict on their procedures. We know that you have to negotiate on interest rates and I will tell Sharon to keep pushing on that when we meet on Monday. He is not unreceptive to that, but just wants us to know we can’t change our minds quickly once we have made a commitment of funds to a fixed time, etc.

[Marginal note: “from CL”]

Originally posted on December 10th, 2021.

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