251.11 Insull, Samuel/111

The Chargé in Greece (Morris) to the Secretary of State

No. 2386

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s telegram No. 74, of December 29, 5 p.m.,27 in which the Department requests that I obtain specific information as to whether an appeal may lie from the decision of the Greek Court in the extradition proceedings instituted against Samuel Insull, and desires to be informed whether further extradition proceedings could go forward upon the presentation of important additional evidence.

I immediately made verbal inquiry based upon this telegram. After discussion amongst themselves, the Greek officials competent in the matter arrived at the conclusion that little if anything could be done. However, those who discussed the matter amongst themselves were the permanent bureau heads in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice. After my return from leave of absence about the middle of January, I was informed that the Ministry could not give me a written reply unless I wrote a note, which I did,—a copy of which is attached herewith.28 In the meanwhile, during this lapse of several weeks, during which the verbal discussion of the matter was taking place, the minority Tsaldaris Government fell and Veniselos assumed charge of the government. After I presented my note of January 28th, I made repeated calls at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, asking for an answer, which I was always promised but which never came.

I have now learned that Mr. Veniselos and Mr. Michalakopoulos29 were of the opinion that it would be desirable not to express a written opinion in this matter, if it could possibly be avoided, until after the national elections on March 5th, when they hoped and expected to have their government confirmed. In the meanwhile, the opposition party [Page 558] of Tsaldaris got wind, through inside channels, of the Legation’s request and determined to do something about it if they should come in power. They lost no time in bringing this matter forward after their government recently took charge.

I enclose a copy of a note verbale30 which I received today answering my note of January 28th, a copy of which is also enclosed.31 Yesterday afternoon Mr. Demetrius Maximos, the new Minister for Foreign Affairs, held his first reception to the diplomatic corps. He brought up the subject of Insull’s extradition and was at pains to explain to me that Premier Tsaldaris, he, Maximos, and Mr. Jean Rhallys held the view that the decision of the Court refusing the extradition was in error, both in judicial reasoning and in its political effect. He told me that the present government would be only too glad, if it had the opportunity, to review the case. This could only be done, however, much to their regret, by the presentation of a new extradition request based upon new proofs, a new warrant, and a new indictment, for an offense not connected with the one cited in the first extradition papers. He did not hesitate to tell me that he and his colleagues felt that Greece had made a mistake in refusing the extradition and continuing to give asylum to a man who is accused of grave faults in his own country and in whose protection Greece had no legitimate interest. He stated that Mr. Tsaldaris had consulted with the Minister of Justice and other government leaders, all of the high Greek judicial officials, including all the members of the Court of Appeal who rejected the Insull extradition. It was only after careful consideration by all concerned that the note, of which a copy is enclosed, was written. It had been ascertained informally from the Court of Appeal that if a request were made to reopen the case already adjudged, this request would meet with failure. Mr. Maximos was particularly anxious that a request for the presenting of additional evidence in regard to the same accusation should not be made as he and his colleagues felt that it would be doubly offensive to the United States to reject a second request, which was foreshadowed to them by their informal inquiries from the members of the Court of Appeal. He indicated just as strongly, however, that the Cabinet would be glad of an opportunity to take up the extradition under a new set of facts.

I requested the Department in my telegram of this date32 not to take any action or to give any publicity in this matter because I wish it to have this background first of all; and secondly I wish to make it clear that, according to the verbal explanation given me by Mr. Maximos and by the chief law officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is the conception [Page 559] of the Greek authorities that extradition proceedings against Insull may only be renewed upon the presentation of the necessary proofs of other crimes or offenses which have no connection with the ones already cited, even though they may be of the same nature and extraditable under the same articles of the treaty.

To illustrate by example: It is my understanding from verbal explanation that the matter may be reopened if the necessary proofs are furnished that Insull. misused funds under his control in any other circumstances than in connection with the withdrawal from the Mississippi Valley Utilities Investment Company and Middle West Utilities Company for payment into the stock broking firms of Jackson Brothers-Boesel & Company and Russell, Brewster Company for the account of his brother Martin,33 whereby $170,000 was unlawfully taken from the funds of those two companies. If it occurred that Insull on other occasion, for example, authorized payment from the funds of the same companies to the same stock brokers for the account of Martin Insull—but different sums of money and at a different period, thereby constituting an entirely new accusation unrelated to the first—I understand that this would be considered a proper basis for a new extradition request. Obviously, if the accusation related to unlawful transactions of Insull in any other connection, the position of Greek law and the interpretation of the Greek Government in respect thereto and in respect to the treaty would be even more favorable. In this connection, Mr. Bellows, one of the Illinois State’s Attorneys who visited Athens, told me that the Chicago authorities had selected the simplest and least complicated accusation against Insull on which to base the extradition proceedings. This was done, so he said, in the belief that it would facilitate the extradition by not confusing the minds of foreign judges unfamiliar with American business practices and corporation laws. He added that many grave accusations lay against Insull. If this is true it would seem possible and desirable for the Chicago authorities to present an entirely new set of facts in no way related to the accusation which failed of acceptance by the Greek court in the first instance, and preferably—if possible—unconnected with the Insull companies or the stock broking companies involved in the accusation already presented.

In order that I may not be faced with the possibility of officially presenting a second request which has no hope of favorable action and which I am led to believe would be displeasing to the present cabinet of Greece if it were forced into the position of presenting to its judicial authorities a second request foredoomed to failure, I ask the Department, [Page 560] in case it is desired to present another request, to inform me briefly beforehand by an instruction or telegram of the nature of the accusation, with sufficient details to informally and verbally present the facts to the Foreign Office in order to ascertain the reaction of the Greek officials. This will prevent the possibility of an embarrassing and disagreeable position to both governments which would result from a refusal to reopen the case. Of course the rejection of a new formal request by the Court is always possible but that is a risk which must be run.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Respectfully yours,

Leland B. Morris
  1. Not printed.
  2. Note dated January 28; not printed.
  3. Presumably Andre Michalakopoulos, Greek lawyer and politician; chief law officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  4. Note dated March 7; not printed.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Presumably refers to telegram No. 33, March 17, 4 p.m.; not printed.
  7. Martin Insull, president and director of Middle West Utilities Co. and Mississippi Valley Utilities Co.