835.24/1–2848: Airgram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Gallman) to the Secretary of State


A–241. US–UK: Sale by UK of American tanks in Belgium; export to Argentine.

Emb. A–2652 of Dec. 31, 19472 reported FonOff views in re sale in Belgium of tanks of US origin by UK disposal officers. As stated therein, it was apparent both FonOff and Min. of Supply officials were embarrassed by failure of UK officials concerned to take necessary precautions to ensure these tanks were actually in “scrap” condition. While FonOff insisted that UK Govt had made no unusual profit on transaction as only scrap prices were charged and received, the intimation was that there might have been “carelessness” on part of officials concerned.

It is now known that shortly after this case first arose, the Brit authorities, including Scotland Yard, the police are3 began investigating the sale of UK military surplus on the continent and the possible illegal personal enrichment of the officials concerned therewith. Recently, this investigation culminated in the sending of a special police mission, composed of Scotland Yard agents and financial experts, to Switzerland to examine into bank accounts there of former disposal officers. The intimation was that those officials had deposited any funds illicitly received in hidden accounts there.

However, UK press Jan. 26th reports the return of the police mission [Page 311] from Switz without any results since the Swiss authorities refused to facilitate or even permit the investigations to be made. Nevertheless, the development indicates that the UK authorities have taken steps to prevent sale of surplus in an illegal manner.

  1. Ibid., p. 236.
  2. Apparent garble.