[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 984 of the FBI’s RYMUR release. The text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978GEORGE04141_d.html.]
GEORGE 04141 090146Z
INFO OCT-01 ISO-00 SS-15 NSC-05 CIAE-00 INR-10 NSAE-00 L-03 PA-02 EB-08 SY-05 FBIE-00 SCS-06 CA-01 /071 W
——————072351 091308Z /43 41
R 071204Z DEC 78
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8361
INFO AMEMBASSY PANAMA
UNCLAS GEORGETOWN 4141
E.O. 12065: NA
TAGS: OREP, CASC, GY
SUBJC FINANCIAL ASPECTS OF PEOPLE’S TEMPLE
1. NBC TV team presently in Georgetown informed DCM [Deputy Chief of Mission] NBC working closely with San Francisco “Examiner” to document and trace financial assets of People’s Temple in Guyana, California and elsewhere. Said they have traced route of some funds from U.S. to Jonestown via intermediary of Panamanian bank. NBC posed questions regarding size of balances of Temple account in local brach [branch] Barclay’s, disposition of assets allegedly seized by GOG [Government of Guyana] from fleeing Jonestown survivors, other financial resources of Temple. DCM replied that embassy consular responsibilities for estates of deceased Americans which are being exercised with regard to personal property. Differentiation between personal and organizational or communal property, as well as disposition of latter, presents complex legal questions under U.S. and Guyanese law which presently under study. In response to question on disposition Social Security checks, DCM replied that embassy has in its possession number of Social Security checks recovered from Jonestown which will be processed in accordance with consular and SSA regulations.
PAGE 02 GEORGE 04141 090146Z
2. Department will wish to be alert to possibility that combined resources NBC and “Examiner” may produce newsworthy items regarding financial aspects of People’s Temple which will in turn generate questions for the department. Embassy suggests that department consider whether it can properly or usefully undertake similar investigation of its own through, for example, embassies in Panama and Bern.
Burke [John Burke, U.S. Ambassador to Guyana]