What fate for survivors’ funds? Why were warning signals ignored?

One year after more than 900 Americans perished in Jonestown, Guyana, many issues involving the late Jim Jones and his People’s Temple remain unresolved. These include:

• Money: What will happen to the millions of dollars of Temple assets?

• Survivors: Where are they? What is the state of their mental health?

• Responsibility: How could the aberrant activities of Jones and his cult go unnoticed by the authorities for so long? Why weren’t the warnings of former Temple members heeded?

About 700 claims amounting to $1.78 billion have been filed against the Temple by relatives of the dead, former members, and even the U.S. government. The government wants reimbursement of $4.3 million it says was spent on transporting the Jonestown victims and readying them for burial.

Robert Fabian, the court-appointed receiver in San Francisco, says he can account for slightly more than $10 million in Temple assets. The amount includes $7.2 million that finally turned up last month in two banks in Panama. Part of the money had been transferred from accounts in Swiss bank branches in Panama City prior to the mass murder-suicide on November 18, but authorities were unable to trace it. There were reports that Jones had ordered the transfer of more than $7 million to the Soviet Communist party for the benefit of “oppressed people” around the world. No details were released in connection with discovery of the missing money.

Several Temple bank accounts, amounting to $200,000 at most, were found in Caribbean countries, according to Fabian, and another $3 million in banks in Guyana. “The Guyanese government has filed so many law suits, we don’t expect to see much of that money,” Fabian told ...

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