Dec 18, 78 • 2155 • Panama-State • 9219

[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 1253 of the FBI’s RYMUR release. The text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978PANAMA09219_d.html.]

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PAGE 01
PANAMA 09219 182307Z
ACTION L-03
INFO OCT-01 ARA-11 ISO-00 H-01 FBIE-00 CIAE-00 INR-10
NSAE-00 TRSE-00 JUSE-00 SPTA-02 SCS-06 CA-01
EUR-12 SSO-00 NSCE-00 INRE-00 /047 W
——————044226 182312Z /73

O 182155Z DEC 78
FM AMEMBASSY PANAMA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0260
INFO AMEMBASSY BERN
AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
LIMITED OFFICIAL USE PANAMA 09219
EO 12065: N/A
TAGS: EFIN, PEOPLES TEMPLE, PN
SUBJECT: PEOPLES TEMPLE BANK ACCOUNTS
REF: (A) STATE 316647, (B) GEORGETOWN 4326

1. AS GOP [GOVERNMENT OF PANAMA] OFFICES AND PANAMANIAN BANKS CLOSED ON SATURDAY, E/C COUNSELOR AND CONSUL MADE CALLS PER REFTEL (A) MORNING OF DECEMBER 18. FIRST SAW MINISTER OF PLANNING AND ECONOMY GONZALEZ, EXEC SEC OF PANAMANIAN BANKING COMMISSION DE DIEGO, AND LEGAL ADVISORS TO MINISTRY AND COMMISSION. GOP OFFICIALS EXPRESSED AWARENESS OF IMPLICATIONS OF CASE BUT PLEAD THAT PANAMANIAN BANKING SECRECY LEGISLATION PREVENTS THE GOVERNMENT FROM FORCING BANKS’ COOPERATION. GONZALEZ EXPRESSED KEEN AWARENESS OF IMPLICATIONS OF CASE AND SAID THAT GOP WOULD LEND ITS “GOOD OFFICES” TO EMBASSY’S EFFORTS TO BLOCK ACCOUNTS.

2. EMBOFFS ALSO SAW OFFICERS OF PANAMA SUBSIDIARIES OF UNION BANK OF SWITZERLAND AND SWISS BANK CORPORATION (SBC). BOTH BANKS’ OFFICERS SAY THAT THEY BLOCKED ACCOUNTS WHEN THEY LEARNED OF DEVELOPMENTS IN GUYANA.

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PAGE 02 PANAMA 09219 182307Z

SBC OFFICER ALSO VOLUNTEERED THAT HIS BANK (A) HAS BLOCKED ALL GUYANESE ACCOUNTS AND (B) HAS RECEIVED SEVERAL REQUESTS, INCLUDING FROM CALIFORNIA SOURCES, TO MAKE PAYMENTS ON ACCOUNTS. HE CONFIRMED RECEIPT OF COMMUNICATION FROM GUYANA (REF B), BUT REPEATED THAT NO REQUESTS FOR DISBURSEMENT OF ASSETS HAVE BEEN HONORED.

3. WE UNDERSTAND THAT HEAD OFFICES OF BOTH BANKS MAY BE IN CONTACT ON NEXT STEPS. RESPONSIBLE SBC OFFICER IS LEGAL ADVISOR DE GRAFFENRIED, AT BASEL.

4. ACTION REQUESTED:

A. GONZALEZ SUGGESTED THAT EMBASSY HIRE LOCAL COUNSEL AND REQUEST THAT ACCOUNTS BE BLOCKED. DOES DEPARTMENT WISH FORMALLY TO TAKE THIS STEP?

B. SWISS BANK CORPORATION SAID IT WOULD REINFORCE THEIR BLOCKING OF ACCOUNT IF THEY COULD BE PROVIDED EVIDENCE OF DEATH. CAN DEPARTMENT PROVIDE DOCUMENTATION THAT WILL SUPPORT SWISS BANKS?

MOSS [Ambler H. Moss, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to Panama]

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Originally posted on March 25th, 2020.

Last modified on July 4th, 2022.
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