DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
COMMUNICATION MESSAGE FORM
CLASSIFICATION: UNCLAS EFTO
FM DIRECTOR FBI
TO FBI SAN FRANCISCO PRIORITY
UNCLAS E F T O (Section 1 of 2)
By teletype January 11, 1979, State Department furnished the following information:
Re: Peoples Temple funds in Switzerland.
Department of Justice has furnished Department with text of formal request to Swiss government for blocking of Peoples Temple account in Swiss bank under Judicial Assistance Agreement. Text follows herewith. Embassy requested to pass text ASAP to Department of Justice and police and indicate that original and covering letter from Assistant Attorney General Philip B. Heymann sent by airmail January 11, 1979, addressed to Dr. Lionel Frei. Begin text. Dr. Lionel Frei, International Assistance Section, Division
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of Police, Federal Department of Justice and Police, Bundesrain 20, Bern, Switzerland.
Re: Assistance under the Treaty on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters in the investigation of the Peoples Temple.
Dear Dr. Frei: Enclosed is a request for the assistance of the appropriate authorities in Switzerland under the Treaty on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. We will forward a German translation of this request as soon as it is prepared. Sincerely, Philip B. Heymann, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, enclosure follows:
To: The Central Authority of Switzerland
Subject: Assistance under the Treaty on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters in the investigation of the Peoples Temple.
The United States requests the assistance of the appropriate authorities in Switzerland under the Treaty on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters in the investigation of the Peoples Temple. The federal grand jury operating under the authority of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California is investigating
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possible fraud in obtaining funds by the Peoples Temple, and possible embezzlement and fraud in the disposition of these funds, in the aftermath of the death of Congressman Ryan and hundreds of United States citizens in Jonestown, Guyana. In order to prevent the possible embezzlement of funds belonging to the Peoples Temple, and to enable the grand jury to investigate fully the allegations that these funds were obtained fraudulently, we request that the Peoples Temple account in the Union Bank of Switzerland be temporarily blocked, and we request the records of that account to show the disposition of those funds.
Subject matter of the request
Facts: As a result of the great public attention to the Peoples Temple sect resulting from the killing of Congressman Leo Ryan and the mass suicide of Peoples Temple members at Jonestown, Guyana, on November 18, 1978, it became known that the Peoples Temple had large sums of money in bank accounts both in the United States and abroad. At about the same time, we discovered that Peoples Temple had an account in the Zurich branch of the Union Bank of Switzerland. We have also learned that
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Mark Lane, formerly an attorney for the Peoples Temple, and Theresa Buford, an official of the Peoples Temple and an authorized signatory on a number of the Peoples Temple’s bank accounts, were recently in Europe together. We received information that they were to travel to Switzerland for the purpose of withdrawing funds from Peoples Temple accounts — funds to which they were not lawfully entitled. They have denied that they ever traveled to Switzerland, and we have not been able to confirm whether or not they did.
Information also came to our attention that the funds of the Peoples Temple accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere may be comprised in whole, or in part, of monies obtained fraudulently from members of the sect and others. Indeed, several civil actions have been filed in the State of California by former members of the sect and their families in which the complainants allege such fraud. Our information on the Peoples Temple bank account in Switzerland indicates that it has account number 220.117.60J in the Zurich brandbranch [branch] of the Union Bank of Switzerland.
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We are informed that the Peoples Temple also holds a safety deposit box in that bank as well.
Offenses: The Offense of Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property, Title 18 U.S.C. SS2314 is violated when a person transports property which is stolen or taken by fraud across state boundaries or across the borders of the United States. This statute may have been violated by the movement of Peoples Temple funds to Switzerland if they had been fraudulently obtained. It also would be violated if persons embezzle or fraudulently obtain these funds from a Swiss bank account or safe deposit box, and transport them into the United States.
The offense of fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1341, is committed when the offender induces another person to give up something of value in reliance on statements which offender makes, knowing them to be untrue. The crime of fraud may have taken place if the persons seeking to exercise control over the Peoples Temple accounts obtained that control by making false statements or if they exercised that power contrary to promises they made limiting their exercise
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of that power.
Need for assistance: The records of the Peoples Temple account in the Union Bank of Switzerland are needed to provide highly relevant information on the alleged movement of fraudulently obtained funds from the United States to Switzerland, or through Switzerland to third countries.
These records also are needed to show whether funds of the Peoples Temple have been disbursed in such a way as to constitute theft or fraud. The records could show, for example, disbursement in ways, or to persons, contrary to the wishes of the Peoples Temple, or contrary to representations made by the persons obtaining the funds.
In order to prevent any further distribution of the funds, and to insure that the rightful owners of the funds have a fair opportunity to assert their claims, it is necessary to block this account from any further withdrawals. For the same reasons, we believe it is necessary to
FM DIRECTOR FBI
TO FBI SAN FRANCISCO PRIORITY
UNCLAS E F T O (Section 2 of 2)
prevent the removal of any articles from the safety deposit box held by Peoples Temple in the Union Bank of Switzerland. We request that the safety deposit box be opened and inventoried, and that we be informed of the contents. The contents of this safe deposit box also may provide information relevant to the above cited violations and other serious violations encompassed by the treaty.
Persons involved the persons who are presently the subject of this investigation are:
Mark Lane, an American citizen born February 24, 1927 in New York City. His present address is 1177 Central Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee. Lane is a former attorney for
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the Peoples Temple sect, and was present in Guyana on November 18, 1978, when Congressman Ryan was killed and the mass suicide took place. Lane was reported to be in Europe in mid-December, 1978, in the company of Theresa Buford. It is possible that Lane and Buford were attempting to unlawfully obtain the assets of the Peoples Temple. If the evidence establishes this, Lane will be charged with criminal offenses.
Theresa Dean Buford, an American citizen born February 4, 1952. Her present address is the same as Lane’s: 1177 Central Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee. Buford was a close associate of Rev. Jim Jones, and has been described as his “public relations advisor” by a former member of the sect. Buford has admitted having opened account number 121.00.135a at the Union Bank of Switzerland in Panama partly through a transfer of $1,623,00.00 from account number 220.117.60J in the Union Bank of Switzerland, which is the account which is the subject of this request. Buford is also a signatory to account number 121.00.135a in Union Bank of Switzerland in Panama, which is held in the name of
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Asasociacion [Associacion] Religiosa pro San Pedro. Buford is reported to have been in Europe with Mark Lane in mid-December 1978.
Other present and former high-ranking members of the Peoples Temple who are still living and who may have been involved in the fraudulent obtaining of funds in, and which have passed through, the Union Bank of Switzerland account.
Persons affected: Although we know of no other parties to the Union Bank of Switzerland account in Zurich, we do not know that there are none. We have information that the following persons are signatories to other Peoples Temple accounts, but we do not have biographical information on these persons:
Tim Stoen. Stoen is a former attorney for the Peoples Temple who has stated to the press that he opened two accounts for the sect in Panama branches of Swiss banks in 1975 and 1976.
Annie McGowan (deceased).
Carolyn Moore Layton (deceased).
Maria Katsaris (deceased).
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Esther Mueller (deceased).
Documents needed: The documents needed are the records of account number 220.117.60J in the Union Bank of Switzerland, Zurich branch. The documents should include but should not be limited to, all ledger sheets, signature cards, powers of attorney, records of deposits, currency exchanges, disbursements, or withdrawals and correspondence and memoranda relating to that account. These documents are believed in the possession of the Union Bank of Switzerland, Zurich branch.
We request that precautionary measures be taken to maintain the existing status of this account so that no assets may be removed illegally. We request that the bank be compelled, if necessary, to produce the records of this account and that a person serving in the capacity of custodian of the records of the bank complete the attached certificate of authenticity of bank records and that the central authority complete the attached certificate of central authority. We request that the bank be asked whether its custodian of records will travel to the United States at the expense of the United States
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government at some future time to give the testimony necessary to authenticate the document documents. If no official is willing, we may later request authentication under Article 18 or Article 20 of the treaty.
We request that the safety deposit box kept in connection with account be opened and an inventory of the contents made and supplied to us. Sincerely, Philip B. Heyman Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division