353.115V13/27: Telegram

The Minister in Portugal ( Dearing ) to the Acting Secretary of State

11. Referring to my despatch of December 9, 1929 No. 2904.2 Local general manager Vacuum Oil Company called this morning and showed me the following telegram despatched by him to New York office January 31:

“Referring to your telegram No. 9. I am now satisfied information not correct and although I might still be able to defeat project, situation growing critical. I know concessionaires offering big graft money and with this enormous handicap it is very essential to have support of Washington. Minister of Finance absent for a few days, will return Tuesday evening; and it is of the utmost importance United States Minister at Lisbon should be instructed by Washington to call on the Minister for Foreign Affairs, which he is prepared to do, for the purpose of protesting against concession of monopoly on Wednesday, February 5, date on which am arranging for Shell Company to have British Ambassador do likewise. Please bear in mind patent is still in the name of original Portuguese concessionaires even if transferred to name of new company, it is also a Portuguese concern and the Atlantic Refining Company of Philadelphia do not come into the picture in any way, consequently protest in favor of ours, the largest petroleum company in Portugal, is fully justified. [Page 773] Government circles have remarked that apparently I have no support from United States Minister. F. C. Sellers.”

I called Sellers’ attention to statement regarding my alleged preparation to protest and told him it was completely unwarranted, that I [could not favor Vacuum as against Atlantic Refining but if Legation’s even standing as between two competing American companies was being interpreted as adverse to Vacuum, I would be glad to inform Portuguese Government Vacuum always had interest and support of]3 Legation in its legitimate business when competition with another American company was not involved.

Acting on advice of his consulting attorney, who it develops was misinformed, Sellers telegraphed New York office Vacuum, January 11th, that Minister of Commerce had cancelled concession. Having discovered the error he is now endeavoring by all possible means to defeat the purpose of the Portuguese concessionaire as backed by the Atlantic Refining Company and takes the ground that technical Portuguese character of concessionaire collusively [conclusively?] warrants our Government in protesting on behalf of Vacuum. He expects his principals to lay matter before Department today.

Further report by mail. Please instruct.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Portion in brackets was omitted in the original telegram; it is supplied from the confirmation copy.