The Secret Gold Treaty
As often is the case, there is an interesting twist to the secret treaty story. In a newspaper article published in the Philippines on 29 October 1999, a former Roman Catholic priest and director of Caritas, Manila – the Catholic charity -- told the Manila based newspaper, The Inquirer, that he once served as “an adviser to the late President Ferdinand Marcos.” The Ex-priest, Marcelino Tagle, also stated he was an “administrator for the estate of another man,” whom he claimed was the source of the Marcos gold.
He went on to identify this person as “Fr. Jose Antonio Diaz,” and to say that Father Diaz was entrusted by the Vatican to take charge of Vatican gold buried on the Philippines. The “Vatican gold” was identified as bullion that had been “captured by Hitler” and that had belonged to the royal families of Europe and been placed under the trusteeship of the Vatican. Also included was gold plundered by the Japanese, Tagle claimed. A copy of a newspaper article exposing Sta. Romana’s Vatican connection is reproduced in the Appendix.
Tagle added that Fr. Diaz had “assumed several names when he moved to the Philippines.” One of these was “Col. Severino Sta. Romana.” Placing a value on the Sta. Romana gold as $50 trillion, Tagle noted that Sta. Romana had “hired the young Marcos as his lawyer and trustee.” This is none other than Severino Garcia Sta. Romana, formerly of the OSS and CIA, who has been discussed earlier.
Giving evidence to the Philippine Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on 14 October 1999, Tagle noted that Marcos, in his capacity as lawyer and chief trustee of Sta. Romana, “succeeded in isolating the nominees or trustees of the gold certificates from the physical assets – so much so, that it is almost impossible to recover them without piecing the various pieces like a mosaic.” By abusing his position of trustee, Marcos effectively gained control of Sta. Romana’s gold and, later, when he had become President, used the “Central Bank to transact the gold.” [i]
The web of control that Tagle claims Marcos spun involved the appointment of a diverse group of additional trustees over the gold and other plunder. Today, these trustees are known as the "Umbrella.” According to a Bob Curtis, the Umbrella is mostly controlled by the Sicilian Mafia. Curtis had this to say about them: “Yes, the mafia name I gave is one of those I changed. But this mafia is not US related. The head is a Don in Sicily. I don't want to say more here.60% of the umbrella are mafia.” [ii] Since Curtis is intimately aware of transactions with Madame Pineda and other members of the Marcos Umbrella one must conclude that he knows what he is speaking about.
Tagle’s testimony is certainly interesting and on the face of it fits many of the facts gathered to date. For example, it snugly explains why Ferdinand Marcos appears on the earliest, 1956, gold certificate held by Johnston. This was many years before Marcos became President but at a time when his influence as a senator was growing. During his 1949 campaign for election to the legislature, Marcos told supporters “Look, I have a lot of money because I got all my war benefits. If you want to receive all your benefits, vote for me.” [iii]
One of the more interesting possibilities is that Santa Romana may have been -- in addition to his OSS/CIA position, and his status of a Catholic priest – operating on behalf of the ultra-right wing and fantastically wealthy Catholic secret society OPUS DEI , which was founded in 1928 in Spain and was closely connected to Generalissimo Franco. There is very little known about this group, even today, except that members have been accused of complicity in the assassination of Pope John Paul I, who died in mysterious circumstances in September 1978. The strange death of the “Smiling Pope” was, by all accounts, connected to the sinister activities of the secretive Masonic Lodge “Propaganda Due” (P2) which was involved with Vatican banker, Roberto Calvi - Chairman of Banco Ambrosiano. Calvi was also a close associate of Mafia financier Michele Sindona.
The history of Opus Dei is instructive. Opus Dei became a registered charitable trust, in London, in of all years,1954, when it registered the Sacerdotal Society of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei Charitable Trust. It did not officially apply for tax-exempt status until 1965 by which point it had become a major player in the evolving Eurodollar market. As author Robert Hutchison points out in his book Their Kingdom Come, the sight of an apparent highly religious and doctrinaire order “speculating in overnight francs and next weeks dollars” was sufficient to raise eyebrows and interest-- and indeed, the profile of Opus Dei -- in London City. One question that springs to mind is where did Opus Dei gain the wealth it appears to have possessed in sufficient quantity to elevate it to the ranks of a significant player in this market? It is doubtful that, at that point in time, it had control of the IOR – the Vatican bank. Could it be that Opus Dei had access to some of the gold and other assets plundered in World War II?
The Spanish connection to the Marcos gold story is of interest because amongst Johnston’s other bullion transactions with Imelda Marcos was one that related to a very large transaction that came from the estate of Don Franco Miguel de Avila and Dona Trinidad Asis de Villarba de Avila. It concerned gold, cash and gems “located in thirty three (33) countries and deposited in fifty seven (57) banks.” This included bullion belonging to the estate of the late Pedro Palafox Laurel – one of the former henchmen of Ferdinand Marcos who was reportedly murdered by Marcos. [iv] Laurel’s assets in the form of “gold certificates, cash and ownership certificates of various properties” were stashed in a safety deposit box at the Overseas Trust Bank, Hong Kong, and formed part of Ferdinand Marcos’s vast web of foreign holdings held by trusted nominees. [v] Interestingly, a portion of the Laurel estate was stashed in the LIPPO bank in Jakarta.
That Marcos operated as a cat's-paw for the Vatican – as suggested earlier by Marcelino Tagle, is confirmed in documents relating to the estate of Don de Avila that reference 47,500 metric tonnes of gold belonging to the Vatican. [vi] This metal was held in Westpac, head office, Melbourne, under the codename FLAT. [vii]
What we haven’t spoken of in any detail is the huge quantities of gold, platinum, gemstones and priceless religious treasures that are still stashed on Indonesia. This piece of information has been held back until last for a very telling reason. Earlier, I mentioned the 1955 meeting in the Indonesian town of Bangdung, where the world’s “non-aligned” nations met for the first time as a group. Virtually unknown to contemporary history is the suggestion that Indonesia’s then President Achmed Sukarno along with a number of other Third World leaders had secretly planned to establish an international non-aligned bank, to be headquartered in Jakarta and backed by gold reserves recovered from World War II treasure stashed in Indonesia. [viii] This represented, apparently, trillions of dollars in gold reserves – making the bank a serious force to be reckoned with and one, moreover, that undoubtedly was viewed as a grave threat to US interests. [ix]
We now know that Allen Dulles and company at the CIA began planning Sukarno’s downfall at this same time. For example, during the 1955 elections in Indonesia, a “million dollars US got converted to rupiahs to prop up the Moslem-oriented Masjuni party and give Sukarno competition.” [x]
By 1956, the Dulles brothers were fit to burst with Sukarno’s grandiose plans, and Frank Wisner – the CIA’s Deputy Director of Plans (for covert operations) -- typified the prevalent feeling when he said “I think it’s time we held Sukarno’s feet to the fire.” [xi] Holding Sukarno’s feet to the fire was, apparently, a droll euphemism for assassination. Despite this, the CIA’s early covert efforts against “Bungkarno” resembled the antics of a Keystone Cops re-enactment society more than anything else, but success was eventually achieved and Sukarno was deposed in 1965.
With him went the idea of an independent and alternative world bank answerable to the interests of those participating non-aligned nations that had no desire to continue to be exploited by Anglo-American interests. Today, the gold that was to be used as reserves for Sukarno’s bank remains stashed in various parts of Indonesia under armed guard.
Yet this is by no means the end of the story. Amongst the various certificates handed to Peter Johnston by the late Dr. Damanik was one headed “Obligation.” Immediately below this the words “Treasure Note” appear. It is dated 14 March 1981 on Barclays Bank International. As is normal, Karmal's name is misspelled as Babrak Kermel, along with other apparently purposeful typographical errors (for example, one person’s Christian name "John" is spelled "Jhon" a mistake that seems to have been favoured by those who appear to have composed these errors). Also as usual, there is an IMF reference. The sum referenced is US$500,000,000. Since there is a Swiss "deposit code" and named Swiss individuals, I imagine funds were deposited in Switzerland, possibly with one of Barclays’ private Swiss - domiciled banks. Two curious seals are repeatedly printed on the Treasure Note and accompanying papers. One is a seal of a crown above the word "BUCENGHAM" surrounded in a double circle bearing the words "Barclays Commercial Bank." The other seal has an icon that is indescribable (but rather like a wine press or something similar) that is circled with the words "The Department of Treasure 1789." One question is what "department of treasure" was around in 1789?
Nonplussed at this, I decided to discover what significant events, if any, took place in 1789. The most famous occurrence was the French Revolution. However, another event that transpired had more immediate relevance to this story. When I first looked the Barclays note over in detail, I thought it likely that the seal stating “The Department of Treasure 1789” was just another purposeful typographical error, but I was wrong. The Department of Treasure is an accurate historical rendering and style for what is now known as the U.S. Department of Treasury. Moreover, the date 1789 does indeed seem to have a reference to the US Treasury for the simple fact that in 1789, the 1st US Congress enacted a Bill to establish the US
Customs Service – the first ever Federal law enforcement agency. The latter has always been answerable to the US Treasury Department and back in 1789, when the US was an infant sovereign state, the only means of revenue (taxation had not yet been introduced) to that state was via excise and tariff duty collected by customs men. This income was passed on to the US Treasury.
The foregoing appears to indicate – if very loosely – that the Barclays Obligation Note is, in fact, a de facto obligation on the US Treasury Department that was issued through a major international bank as an “arms length” device for purposes of deniability. This is further supported by the words “International Deposit,” which appear immediately below the words “Treasure Note,” suggesting that funds have been deposited at Barclays, thus making them an intermediary and not the principal.
Another question that also needs to be asked is why the US Treasury (providing my assumption of their primary responsibility for this Note is correct) parted with half a billion dollars to a Soviet puppet placed in power as a result of a Soviet military invasion of its “client” state, Afghanistan.
Not least, who or what is “BUCENGHAM?”
[i] Tagle also said that the gold included “royal gold” that the British reportedly shipped to Singapore for safekeeping in the event that Hitler would conquer all of Europe. The story that British gold was secretly shipped to Singapore – rather than Canada-- for safety and was then captured by Japanese forces when they overran the island is often whispered. However, I have seen no reliable evidence (at least thus far) that this is true.[xi] Blum, William, Killing Hope (Common Courage Press, 1995) at 99.