Economist, Once Adviser to FDR, Dies
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Lauchlin Currie, a top economic adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt who was accused in the McCarthy era of passing information to Soviet agents, has died. He was 91.
Currie, a native Canadian who attained American and then Colombian citizenship, died Dec. 23 in Bogota of heart trouble, his wife Elvira said today.
The graduate of the London School of Economics and Harvard University was an adviser to Roosevelt from 1939 to 1945, when Currie left U.S. government service. During that period he was also Roosevelt’s delegate to Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek, helping his regime gain economic strength amid its fight against invading Japanese forces.
He also went to Switzerland on behalf of Roosevelt to ask Swiss banks not to turn over gold deposited by Germans, in an attempt to wage ″economic warfare″ against the Nazis, Currie’s son, Roderick Currie, said in an interview.
In Switzerland, Currie also laid wreaths on graves of Swiss killed by misguided American bombs, and to avert further casualties negotiated a guarantee that no bombs would be dropped within 100 miles of the Swiss border, Roderick Currie said.
″The negotiations were secret, because if the German had known about it they would have moved their factories to within 100 miles of the Swiss border,″ he said.
In the late 1940s, Currie was accused of having passed information to a Soviet spy ring, charges he denied in public statements and before congressional investigators.
″There wasn’t much he could say to defend himself,″ said Mrs. Currie. ″How can you defend yourself against lies?″
Roderick Currie of Oxnard, Calif., said that even though his father was cleared by congressional investigators, the accusations that he had helped communism dogged him the rest of his life.
Currie became an economic adviser to the Colombian government, where development, economic growth and social welfare were his ″obsessions,″ a local newspaper said. He created a program to provide low-cost housing.
Until his death, he participated in conferences and wrote papers about economics, his wife said.
He is also survived by a daughter, Elizabeth Currie of Bogota.