882.635 Neep/70: Telegram

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

22. Your 32, May 12, 4 p.m.21

(1)
In the light of confidential information which has reached the Department from The Hague, the continued unexplained and protracted delay of the Neep representatives in furnishing geological reports and ore samples again raises the question as to whether Neep is not more interested in the signing of a concession for speculative purposes than in submitting a bona fide study of the Bomi Hills deposits. To our surprise, managing director of Amsterdamsche Bank now states that geological report might not be expected to reach him until after concession has been granted; moreover he appears to be under the impression that the concession has been or is about to be signed. He has also made the statement that controlling interest in the project would have to remain in Netherlands hands, which doubtless refers to Neep in association with the Bank.
(2)
Additional developments reported from The Hague indicate that from the standpoint of Liberia it would be desirable to give very careful consideration to the character and nationality of any interests seeking mineral concessions in that country. Muller and Company, a Netherlands organization with close German connections, has let it be known that it is definitely interested if not in acquiring a controlling share of the proposed concession then at least in substantial rights [Page 793]as selling agent or for transportation of ore. The representative of this company asserts he has heard from his associates in Germany that according to the German Consul in Monrovia the concession has already been signed. He left no doubt that the principal presumptive market for the ore would in any case be Germany.
(3)
These developments suggest the possible unreliability of the promised report if and when produced by Neep, in view of which you may desire to bring the points mentioned in paragraphs (1) and (2) in strict confidence to President Barclay’s attention. In doing so you could take the opportunity to reiterate that our sole purpose in pointing out these facts is to facilitate the President’s efforts to come to a decision regarding the development of Liberia’s iron ore resources and to assure himself that interested foreign concerns have no ulterior designs which might prove unfriendly or dangerous to Liberian sovereignty. To this end we have mentioned the possibility of employing an independent expert to make an impartial appraisal of the Bomi area. Neither Neep nor any other prospective concessionaire, it is felt, should or could have any objection to the Liberian Government’s desire to have a reliable expert survey of any of its natural resources made before granting a concession in respect thereto. President Barclay will appreciate that in making this suggestion we have the welfare of Liberia uppermost in mind, but that it is difficult for us to proceed much further in the matter in the absence of any evidence that progress is being made in obtaining technical reports and samples.
(4)
Please inform the Department by telegraph whether you can find any substantiation for the report that concession has been granted to Neep. At the same time we should be glad to be informed (a) as to the findings, if any, disclosed by ore samples which your telegram of February 21 stated were then being assayed, and (b) whether the geological report described in your telegram of February 4 was the same as that enclosed with your air mail letter of February 26, 1938.22
Hull
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.