851.51/9–2347: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Caffery) to the Secretary of State
us urgent

4135. For State and Treasury from Embassy and Tomlinson.1 Secretary of Treasury requests following message be brought to immediate attention of Wiggins2 and Southard:3

In conversation on September 22 Finance Minister Schuman listed specific steps in which we might be of immediate assistance in alleviating French dollar payments crisis. I informed Schuman of the sympathy and concern of the Administration with regard to the present situation and assured him that I would do everything possible to expedite attention already being given to these matters.

Unutilized balance of Ex-Imbank loan now amounts to 200 million earmarked for purchase of equipment. Schuman suggests terms of loan contract might be changed to permit as close as possible to 100 million of this balance to be used for purchases of coal, cotton, petroleum products and other supplies. Schuman states his relations with Ex-Imbank are excellent but feels that if France negotiates question directly with Ex-Imbank no modification of contract will be possible, at least with necessary speed. He urged that US Administration [Page 757] participate in negotiations to reach favorable solution before October 15.
Question of expediting and arranging advance payment on settlement of French claims arising from US Army procurement in France was also raised. Schuman states possibly 50–60 million could be made immediately available from claims outstanding. (Embtel 40884)
Schuman urged prompt distribution of “looted” gold recovered to date. He suggested gold be delivered to an Allied central bank to be inventoried, weighed and assayed and that Tripartite Commission in Brussels5 be directed to go ahead with temporary distribution until technicians could settle exact claims of each country. Question was also raised of approximately 33,000 kg. of fine gold blocked in Bank of Japan and belonging to French Union (Indochina). Schuman asked for assistance of Treasury in reaching favorable solution as promptly as possible.
Final question raised by Schuman was problem of mobilization of private French assets abroad, particularly those held in US through Swiss banks and not declared by their owners to French Government. Schuman referred to estimate of 500 million. He expressed hope that Treasury could find some indirect means of assisting his Government in getting these undeclared assets. He acknowledged delicate position of US because of undertakings given to US banks at time of TFR 300 census.6 Schuman said he did not wish to take strongly punitive measures against French owners but felt some means other than voluntary program would have to be used to obtain desired results. He referred to plan whereby US would announce date for vesting of uncertified assets by Office of Alien Property and expressed view that if concerted with French Government program, such action might bring owners to declare their assets to French. Schuman also referred to plan under consideration by French which would involve certification of assets belonging to French owners without French Government actually learning identity of individual owners. He argued that in most cases such detailed information not necessary to establish non-enemy character of assets involved since largest part of such assets have been held by same owners for long period before the war. He suggested that present certification procedure might be modified to take account of this fact if owners let dollars be used to finance French purchases. [Snyder.]
  1. William M. Tomlinson, representative at Paris of the Department of Treasury.
  2. Archibald L. M. Wiggins, Under Secretary of the Treasury.
  3. Frank A. Southard, Jr., Director of the Office of International Finance, Department of the Treasury.
  4. Not printed.
  5. The Tripartite Commission for the Restitution of Monetary Gold was established by the Governments of the United States, United Kingdom, and France on September 27, 1946. For a statement of the functions of the Commission, see Department of State Bulletin, September 29, 1946, p. 563.
  6. A census of foreign-owned property subject to the jurisdiction of the United States was announced by the Department of the Treasury on June 14, 1941. The returns, prepared by banks, corporations, and individuals, were submitted on Report Forms TFR–300.