882.635 Neep/45: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Liberia (Wharton)

5. Personal for Wharton from McBride. Your 12, February 13, 5 p.m., and 4th paragraph your personal letter, January 22.

Please seek earliest opportunity to assure President Barclay that our attitude toward foreign concessions in Liberia has not, as he appears to believe, undergone any change. Our sole purpose from the first has been to favor any development of Liberian resources by responsible foreign concerns provided it was perfectly clear that such concerns had no ulterior motives. Our own inquiries have not completely satisfied us that Neep meets these requirements. We have been considerably concerned, for example, at the comparatively large number of foreigners of undetermined nationality who would be permitted to enter Liberia under the proposed terms of the concession and also by the fact that no indication has been given as to how Neep proposes to finance the extensive harbor project costing approximately 5 million dollars. Our information also indicates that Neep is apparently not an operating company and that its present resources are insufficient to complete its engagements. Our fears in this last respect are confirmed by confidential information received today from The Hague indicating that Neep does not have sufficient resources to take more than a fractional share, possibly one-fifth, in the proposed investment. We have also learned from the same source that Neep has suggested to the Amsterdamsche Bank the possibility of interesting German capital. The Bank, however, has felt that it would be more logical to approach American concerns.
Although we are not, of course, in a position to urge American concerns to make investments in Liberia or elsewhere, we are willing to render such assistance as we properly can toward bringing the Amsterdamsche Bank in touch with any American firms which might be interested, if President Barclay believes that American participation in the proposed concession would lessen any of the possible dangers thereof. We believe that any American concerns interested in participating in the Neep project will approach us within the next few days and we will immediately telegraph you as to their attitude toward possible participation.
Meanwhile, President Barclay may wish to defer any definite decision as to confirmation of the concession until the matters discussed above, so highly important to Liberia’s future, are made more clear.
Please advise me promptly of the results of your conversations. [McBride.]