Dec 6, 78 • 1600 • Georgetown-State • 4121

[Editor’s note: This text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978GEORGE04121_d.html.]

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GEORGE 04121 061655Z
ACTION SCS-06
INFO OCT-01 ARA-11 ISO-00 TRSE-00 CA-01 HEW-04 L-03 SSO-00 /026 W
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O 061600Z DEC 78
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8349
C O N F I D E N T I A L GEORGETOWN 4121

E.O. 12065: RDS 12/5/83 (FORTUNE, T) OR-M
TAGS: CGEN, CASC, GY
SUBJ: CHECKS IN CUSTODY OF U.S. COUNSEL

1. AS DEPARTMENT IS AWARE, EMBASSY HAS CUSTODY OF LARGE NUMBER OF CHECKS FOUND AT JONESTOWN. IN ACCORDANCE WITH INSTRUCTIONS REFTEL, CHECKS PAYABLE TO SURVIVORS WHICH WERE NOT ENDORSED TO THIRD PARTIES HAVE BEEN GIVEN TO SURVIVORS. THERE REMAIN SEVERAL HUNDRED CHECKS AND MONEY ORDERS PAYABLE TO DECEASED PERSONS. THE MAJORITY OF THESE ARE U.S. TREASURY CHECKS OF WHICH THE PREPONDERANCE ARE PRESUMABLY SOCIAL SECURITY CHECKS. THE REMAINDER ARE PERSONAL CHECKS AND MONEY ORDERS. ALL HAVE BEEN ENDORSED BY THE PAYEE AND NONE ARE ENDORSED TO A THIRD PARTY. THERE ARE 19 CHECKS, TOTALING $23,045.49 DRAWN ON A CALIFORNIA BRANCH OF THE BANK OF MONTREAL AND PAYABLE TO CASH. ALL OF THESE HAVE BEEN ENDORSED BY THE DRAWEES. FINALLY, THERE ARE 65 CHECKS, MONEY ORDERS AND TRAVELERS CHECKS PAYABLE TO THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE, JONES OR OTHER PERSONS WHO, ACCORDING TO/NOTATIONS ON THE CHECKS, ARE RECEIVING FUNDS ON BEHALF OF THE TEMPLE. THESE TOTAL $3,917.51.

2. IT APPEARS THAT CHECKS PAYABLE TO INDIVIDUALS ARE THE PROPERTY OF DECEASEDU.S. CITIZENS AND THUS FALL WITHIN 22 USC SEC 1175, REGARDLESS OF WHAT ACTION IS TAKEN WITH RESPECT TO THE “ORGANIZATIONAL” PROPERTY OF PEOPLE’S TEMPLE. 7 FAM 446 REQUIRES THE CONSULAR OFFICER HAVING CUSTODY TO

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DELIVER SUCH PROPERTY TO THE LEGAL REPRESENTATIVES OF THE DECEDENTS.

3. IN VIEW OF STRONG INTEREST IN DETERMINING QUESTION OF FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR GUYANA EVACUATION, DEPARTMENT IS REQUESTED TO CONSIDER POTENTIAL APPLICABILITY OF 7 FAM 445.7-1 AND 7-2, WHICH REQUIRE CONSULAR OFFICER TO PAY DEBTS OWED BY DECEDENT IN THE COUNTRY WHERE DEATH OCCURRED “INCLUDING EXPENSES INCIDENT TO THE DISPOSITION OF REMAINS.” APPLICABILITY OF THIS PROVISION TO ALLEGED DEBT OWED TO USG UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES APPEARS DOUBTFUL. POLICY CONSIDERATIONS ARISING FROM ATTEMPT TO RECOUP USG EXPENSE FROM SMALL ESTATES OF DECEDENTS WHICH, IN THE AGGREGATE, TOTAL ONLY A SMALL FRACTION OF COST INVOLVED, MILITATE AGAINST THIS OPTION. FURTHERMORE, ASSERTION OF INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR COST OF DISPOSITION OF REMAINS IS INCONSISTENT WITH ATTEMPT BY JUSTICE TO IMPUTE EXPRESS OR IMPLIED CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATION TO PEOPLE’S TEMPLE.

4. EMBASSY INTENDS TO RETAIN CHECKS PAYABLE TO OR FOR THE BENEFIT OF PEOPLE’S TEMPLE PENDING RESOLUTION OF STATUS OF TEMPLE PROPERTY IN GUYANA. INSTRUCTIONS ARE REQUESTED REGARDING THE MANNER IN WHICH THE CONSULAR OFFICER’S DUTY UNDER 7 FAM 446 SHOULD BE DISCHARGED WITH RESPECT TO CHECKS PAYABLE TO INDIVIDUALS, AND THE DESIRABILITY OF SEEKING TO DEFRAY PROTION OF USG EXPENSE THROUGH PROCEDURE DISCUSSED PARA 3 ABOVE. EMBASSY REQUESTS THAT RESPONSE BE COORDINATED WITH SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION.

BURKE

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Originally posted on March 23rd, 2020.

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