Friday, May 29, 2015

Propaganda Due: A Strange and Terrible Journey Into the Heart of the Deep State Part V

Welcome to the fifth installment in my examination of the notorious Propaganda Due Masonic lodge. Over the years the Italian secret society, often referred to as P2 for short, has been linked to a host of outrages, including terrorism, drug trafficking and political assassinations. With the first installment of this series I considered the background of the lodge's Venerable Grand Master, former Blackshirt and SS man Licio Gelli. In part two I considered P2's links to series of terror bombings that rocked Italy in a period known as the "Years of Lead" as well as the lodge's links to the Lisbon-based terror network known as Aginter Press.

With the third installment I moved along to P2's role in what is commonly referred to as "the Great Vatican Banking Scandal" or the "Banco Ambrosiano affair" by considering the backgrounds of three of the key players in the scandal, Bishop Paul Marcinkus, and financiers Michele Sindona and Roberto Calvi. Two of these men, Sindona and Calvi, were definite members of P2 (Marcinkus was also suspected of membership) while Sindona also had known links to the Mafia. There's also compelling evidence that Calvi and possibly even Marcinkus had such ties.

With the fourth and most recent installment I noted the role that Sindona and especially Calvi's financial empires played in financing various right wing dictatorships in Latin America as well as the Polish Solidarity movement. It is highly likely that these activities were conducted with the knowing approval of both the Vatican and the US intelligence community. The Iran-Contra affair played into these intrigues, as noted in that installment.

When last I left off I raised the possibility that the Zurich branch of the Rothschild Bank had been used as a source of funding by Calvi for these endeavors. Whether this was done with the approval of the notorious Rothschild banking dynasty or represented some kind of savage burn on the part of Calvi and company has long vexed researchers. Lucien Gregoire, in his excellent Murder in the Vatican, took a skeptical line:
"In another transaction, Ambrosiano transferred funds from and... account which bought shares in a Rothschild bank. Calvi manipulated the value of the shares which resulted in a $142 million swell in Ambrosiano and an offsetting deflation in Rothschild.
"Courts determined Calvi... siphoned off the Ambosiano 'swell' to the dictator Somoza in Nicaragua and ruling regimes in El Salvador/Guatemala to suppress the revolution of the poor. It was this deal that caused some to believe Rothschild directors had been involved in the  Roberto Calvi  murder  – never proved in the courts."
(Murder in the Vatican, Lucien Gregoire, pg. 351)
Rothschild coat of arms
A former high placed member of the Zurich branch of the Rothschild Bank that Calvi had dealings with insisted, however, that the bank had played a role in Calvi's murder.
"Other blasphemies requiring attention included those made by Swiss banker Jurg Heer. He had been credit manager of Rothschild Bank in Zürich, responsible for managing the Bellatrix account until fired by his superiors. Put out by his rough handling, Heer lifted the lid on Pandora's box. He claimed that in 1982 he had received a phone call from Licio Gelli requesting him to fill a suitcase with $5 million in bank notes and handed over to two men who arrived at the bank in an armor-plated Mercedes. Heer said he later asked for an explanation. 'The money was for the killers of Calvi,' he was told.
"Rothschild Bank, it should be remembered, was where $150 million transferred from Banco Ambrosiano's offshore network to Bellatrix, a member of the United Trading family, became side-tracked. Less than 20 per cent of that money was recovered by the Ambrosiano liquidators. Heer's revelation raised an interesting question: were Calvi's  killers paid with monies belonging to United Trading?
"Heer was questioned by an examining magistrate in Zürich and then disappeared. He was last seen in Madrid around Christmas 1992. He purchased an air ticket for Thailand, where charges against his credit card ended a few months later. Heer's disclosure raised considerable interest among investigators working on the Calvi case. They would like to interview the banker. But there is real concern that he may no longer be alive."
(Their Kingdom Come, Robert Htchison, pgs. 350-351)

United Trading was one of Banco Ambrosiano's offshore shells. As noted above, it is much more likely that this money was funneled to Somoza than used in part to pay off the killers of Calvi. Still, some researchers have insisted that the $142 million was being held in the Rothschild Bank in Zurich and that there was a struggle between Calvi and Gelli for control of it.

I shall get to this possibility in a moment, but first I series of bizarre robberies that unfolded beginning in the mid-1980s and linked to Calvi must be addressed. These happenings may have in part led to the death of a former member of the Rothschild family.
"There are important clues to be found in the chain of high-end bank robberies that began in London on 25th November 1983. Each one could be related in some manner to Calvi. The robbery of the Brinks Mat high-security warehouse at London's Heathrow Airport stunned the UK by its sheer audacity. In all, diamonds and precious metals worth £26 million were seized. Evidence presented in court insisted the thieves were shocked by three tonnes of gold (with strange elasticity, ten tonnes according to other accounts) which they found awaiting them. This is unlikely. What is quite certain is that a fencing operation on that scale would amount to a considerable challenge; but for the Italian Mafia, and particularly the master smuggler and fencer 'Toni' Chichiarelli, a fairly straightforward prospect. Kenneth Noye, a legendary South London criminal with affiliations to the US and Italian Mafioso, was sent down to serve fourteen years for handling the looted gold. He was released after serving only eight years (although later re-imprison for murder). The Brinks Mat investigation was confounded from the start by an internal civil war and rampant corruption raging within Scotland Yard. A significant number of well-placed officers had fallen under the sway of criminal gangs, to such an extent that inquiries like Brinks Mat were mostly conducted away from the Yard's premises. In one bizarre episode, Noye stabbed to death an undercover officer he found lurking in his back garden, yet he escapes scot-free on grounds of self-defense. The rather lame excuse was offered that most of the stolen bullion was buried somewhere, or melted down to make jewelry. Yet the political undertones connecting the London raid, and two more that followed, indicated a chain that led directly to Rome. Documents relating to Calvi, Banco Ambrosiao and the Institute of Religious Works were discovered missing when the investigators moved in.
"Four months later the Brinks Securmark safe deposit centre in Rome was hit (on 24th March 1984) by the gang led by Chichiarelli, posing as members of the Red Brigades. Brinks is an international company of long-standing, specialising in the transit of high-value cargoes and sensitive documents. Its general practice is to organize franchise partnerships in the countries where it operates. One of the founders of Securmark, precursor of the Brinks operation in Rome, was Mark Antinuci, a US citizen and partner of Michele  Sindona in the Daily American, a chain of US-based local newspapers. A business partner of Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, a Yugoslav called Stefano Falez, was on the board of  Brinks in the mid-seventies. Another figure connected with Brinks Securmark was Luigi Mennini, one time executive director of the Vatican's private bank. Mennini was a member of P2. He was regarded as Calvi's general bag carrier within the IOR..."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 228-229)
"Toni" Chichiarelli
As this researcher noted before in an earlier series, smuggler "Toni" Chichiarelli was linked to the kidnapping and later assassination of Italian statesman Aldo Moro. As was noted in that series, the are strong indications that P2 played a key role in Moro's murder. This prospect will also be considered in this present series in a future installment.

Aldo Moro
As was noted in part three of this series, the Daily American was funded in part by the CIA. It is very likely that its founder, the above-mentioned Mark Antinuci, was a US intelligence asset.

But back to the matter at hand. Continuing with Cottrell:
"The firm's legendary watertight secrecy in shifting high value cargoes and sensitive documents exercised a natural appeal to Sindona. His private investment bank was among Brinks Securmark's first clients. So were the IOR and Banco Ambrosiano, forming with Sindona's private operations the troika of bank subsequently exposed as rotten to the core. Three days after the raid, Sindona – by now repatriated from the US – was sentenced to 25 years in an Italian jail for a string of bank frauds. So, was this the Mob's typical crossword puzzle signpost clue that by hook or by crook, they intended to recover everything that Michele Sindona, Roberto Calvi, and Paul Marcinkus had stolen from them? I suspect the answer is yes, with qualifications. The real aim of the raid led by such a prominent neofascist, and Gladio affiliate to boot, was to recover a host of compromising documents relating to Calvi, his activities within the Vatican and the death of the journalist Mino Pecorelli. Equally, the 15 to 20 billion lire difference that Chichiarelli claimed to have pocketed was the reward money for pulling off the successful raid.
"On 12th July 1987 the Knightsbridge safe deposit vaults in London were robbed by an Italian neofascist, Valerio Viccei. He was a colleague in Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari  with Roberto Fiore, who was busily assembling a business fortune in the UK at that time. Italian neofascist breaking into supposedly closely-guarded high security premises in the UK are a decidedly rare species, particularly when they are connected to figures such as Sergio Vaccari Agelli. He was an Italian art dealer based in London who enjoy business and political contacts with Chichiarelli, Licio Gelli – and Roberto Calvi. Ageli was the last person to see Calvi alive, at the Chelsea Cloisters suites, where the disgraced banker was roosting. Agelli was also connected to the disappearance and murder of Jeanette May Bishop, the divorced socialite wife of Baron Evelyn Rothschild , a member of the iconic Jewish banking and investment clan. She and her local guide disappeared late on 29th November 1980, during a house-hunting expedition near Macerata, an ancient city on central Italy's Adriatic coast. Their well-hidden bodies were discovered by boar hunters two years later, entirely devoured by wild animals down to the bones. After the usual leisurely trawl of the evidence, the Italian authorities concluded the pair were murdered, by whom remains unsolved. A link was traced between Bishop and a robbery at Christie's auction rooms in Rome in 1980. It was organized jointly by that well-known pair of connoisseurs and are traffickers, Sergio Agelli and Chichiarelli. The story ran that some of the valuables found their way to Bishop, whether purloined or as a present from Agelli, with whom she evidently had become intimate in London. A middle-aged divorcee, she was often in desperate need of money. But there is an alternative explanation.
"The Zürich branch of the Rothschilds became hopelessly entangled in a typically convoluted web of financial transactions devised by Calvi, on behalf of P2. The intention was to acquire the Rizzoli newspaper group. The bonus would be the control of Italy's most prestigious newspaper, the Milan-printed Corriere Della Sera. This was Calvi's last big throw of the dice, and undoubtedly formed a significant marker on the trail that led to Blackfriars Bridge. He created a magic carousel through which Ambrosiano lent $142 million to a Panamanian shell company called Bellatrix SA, which then deposited the funds at Rothschilds in Zürich to pay for the shares. That was the straightforward part. Bellatrix was then to pay an inflated price for the Rizzoli  shares – ten times market value – in order to generate a cash windfall for the real bidders, who were P2 represented by Gelli and Calvi. The dynamite element came from the claims circulating in Rome and Milan that the $142 million was in part the proceeds of the Christie's robbery, and thus mob property. The pack of cards came tumbling down when Italian regulators torpedoed the deal on a technicality. The bid was to be made through Ambrosiano's Luxembourg office, and that made it a foreign acquisition. The fatal torpedo was actually fired by the sitting premier, Arnaldo Forlani, a weak puppet standing in for the Divine Julius Andreotti.
"Il Divo had decided that Licio Gelli had grown too big for his boots and it was time to cut him down to size. The Rizzoli deal would have given Gelli and P2 commanding influence in the event that il piano di rinascita democratica had succeeded. There was now a two-horse race between Gelli and Calvi to get at the hoard stashed in Zürich. With the whole scheme dropped on the floor, Calvi decided that the $142 million sitting in Zürich was his own private 'reserve fund.' His final destination was supposed to be Zürich, not London. Sergio Agelli knew every nut and bolt of this project. If he had divulged the details to Jeanette May Bishop, she might have been tempted to blackmail her former husband's family firm, given her appetite for money. This would be quite sufficient to earn the attention of Gladio subcontractors organized by Italian secret services."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 229-231)

There's a lot to comment on in the above paragraphs. For starters, this researcher believes that it is unlikely that Calvi and Gelli were attempting to rip off Mafia funds, especially as compelling evidence points to these funds ending up in Latin America, as noted in part four.

Calvi's predecessor, Michele Sindona, almost surely laundered drug money for the Mafia (Sindona's extensive ties to organized crime were addressed in part three) using the Vatican bank and it is likely that this practice continued under Calvi. It is also highly probable a certain portion of this money was skimmed off so that it could be used to fund Gelli's operations in Latin America. The Mafia was almost surely aware of this and more than happy to oblige. After all, drug money couldn't get much cleaner than being filtered through the Vatican banking network and if they had to pay a kind of "sin tax" for this service it is likely they would have done so with little arm twisting.

And what of the Vatican? Would high ranking officials collaborate with men such as Sindona and Calvi well after their criminal ties had begun to be exposed out of sheer greed? The Vatican has been accumulating wealth of centuries and has put those funds to good use. There are likely any number of lucrative activities for the Curia bureaucracy to make a generous retirement fund out that aren't as taboo as laundering drug money (consider, for instance, this recent instance of embezzlement).

It is therefore, in this researcher's opinion, unlikely that the Vatican and its hierarchy would have exposed themselves to such a racket unless they were raising funds for something that could have been even more damaging to the Church... something like procuring arms for various Latin America dictators so that they could commit acts resembling genocide, for instance. Drug money would be idea for such a scenario.

And as for the Rothschilds, scions of the Anglo-American establishment that they are, it is likely that they were aware that the funds taken from their Zurich branch was ear marked for arms and were okay with this. If Jeanette May Bishop, the ex-wife of Baron Evelyn Rothschild, was aware of such intrigues, then she certainly would have had compelling blackmail material to use against the iconic banking dynasty. This seems like a more compelling reason for her death than knowledge of the Zurich branch assisting Gelli and Calvi in ripping off the Mob. It would also make for a far more compelling reason for the Rothschild family to want Bishop and Calvi dead.

But before getting to Calvi's death, I must make a brief digression. At roughly the same time these bank robberies linked to neo-fascist forces were unfolding, something similar was happening in these United States. From the period on 1983-1984 a series of bank robberies unfolded in the Northwestern United States involving the neo-Nazi terror ring known variously as The Order, the Silent Brotherhood or Bruder Schweigen. The organization was founded in late 1983 by one Robert Jay Matthews and soon took to crime to support its endeavors.
"The action began when Matthews and eight other men pledge their sacred honor and declared war against the Zionist Occupied Government in a makeshift ceremony at Matthew's Metaline Falls homestead. The first nervous stickup occurred on October 28, 1983, at an adult bookstore in Spokane, Washington, with a total take of $300. Two months later a shifting cast of characters robbed  $25,000 from a Seattle bank and $3,600 from a Spokane bank. In between they took $8000 from a Shoney's restaurant courier and started counterfeiting $50 bills. In March 1984 they hit their first armored car and came away with $43,000. A month later they targeted the same Seattle car, this time clearing $230,000 in cash. On April 29, a synagogue in Boise was bombed.
"On June 1 they murdered one of their own. Two gang members took Walter West out in the woods, hit him on the head with a hammer, shot him, and buried him. They were afraid he would talk. His body was never recovered.
"On June 17 Matthews and three others gunned down a Denver Jewish radio talkshow host, Alan Berg, who was known for his on-air quarrels with anti-Semites. The murder was the basis for Eric Bogosian's play Talk Radio. Just one month later, on July 9, 1984, they staged the most successful heist, $3.6 million from a Brinks truck on the highway outside Ukiah, California."
(Blood and Politics, Leonard Zeskind, pg. 98)
the aftermath of the Brinks robbery
This researcher has been unable to determine if there was anything linking Calvi and company to Matthews' legendary 1984 Brinks robbery. But it is interesting to note that Matthews and the Order had ties to Richard Butler's Aryan Nations compound in Idaho and even dispensed some of the loot from the robberies the Order staged to Aryan Nations and affiliated individuals. Its interesting to note that one such "Patriot" organization operating in this murky netherworld during the 1980s was the Alabama-based Civilian Material Assistance (CMA). The CMA was fronted by Thomas Posey, an individual implicated in Iran-Contra. Whether Posey's group had ties to The Order is unknown, but they seem to have been traveling in similar circles around this time.

Robert Jay Matthews

Aryan Nations in turn had a host of curious connections, but for our purposes here one stands out: links to a certain international organization that was implicated in the Iran-Contra affair. At the time this organization was being fronted by General John Singlaub, an OSS veteran and long time fixture in the US intelligence community.
"The Canadian branch of WACL, the Canadian Freedom Foundation, headed by John Gamble, works closely with the U.S. Counsel for World Freedom (USCWF) and Singlaub. Together USCWF and the Canadian Freedom Foundation formed the North American regional unit of WACL (NARWACL). Gamble and Singlaub alternate as chair of  NARWACL. Gamble was implicated in the Iran-Contra funding network when a firm for which he served as treasurer and director, Vertex Investments, was discovered to have invested in the arms sales to Iran through two of his partners. The Canadian Freedom Foundation (CFF) and Vertex both operate out of Gamble's law office.
"At least two CFF leaders are active anti-Semites: Pat Walsh is the Canadian correspondent for the quasi-Nazi Liberty Lobby newspaper the Spotlight and Paul Fromm helped found the neo-Nazi Western Guard.
"The Western Guard is led by John Ross Tyler, who served fifty-one months in detention for pro-Nazi activities during World War II. Taylor also leads Canadian contingents to Aryan Nations meetings, including a commemoration of the deaths of members of the Order, a paramilitary offshoot of Aryan Nations that engaged in robberies and murder in its effort to overthrow the U.S. Government."
(Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party, Russ Bellant, pg. 67)
WACL stands for World Anti-Communist League, an international network that brought together third world dictator, neo-fascist terrorists, drug traffickers, religious extremist of all stripes,  "former" Nazi war criminals and of course "former" high ranking US military and intelligence officers. This organization has been dealt with a great length on this blog before here.

The WACL was quite similar to P2, but operated on an ever broader scale. There were of course ties between P2 and WACL, as was noted before in part two of this series. And here we see links between the WACL and Aryan Nations, which was used as a recruiting grounds for The Order. And what of Thomas Posey, the Iran-Contra arms trafficker operating in circles linked to The Order during the mid-1980s?

And of course there is rather striking similarities between the activities of The Order during this time and those of their neo-fascist counterparts in Italy during this time frame. In both instances, a good portion of the money looted on either side of pond was earmarked for redistribution amongst far right groups to support the armed struggle.

This is all highly suggestive, but nothing concrete. But there are certainly shockingly few degrees of separation between the above-mentioned Europe bank robberies and Matthews' crime spree in '83-'84. And with that, let us move along.

Finally, we come to Calvi's bizarre death:
"Calvi's zigzag escape route took in a private jet from Milan to Venice, thence a fast dash to Trieste by car, a brief respite in an Austrian ski chalet before turning up in Heathrow on a false passport. In Trieste, he picked up a pair of minders with gold carat mob connections. One was the widely feared gang boss Giuseppe 'Pippi' Calo, known as the Mob's Cashier, a man with a dedicated efficiency in setting overdue accounts. The last hours of Calvi's life were spent in the Chelsea Cloisters, frantically working the telephone. The by-now ex-chairman of Banco Ambrosiano was clearly facing an imminent deadline. Sometime during the evening of the 17th June, he stepped out in his usual expensive top had and favorite hand-made loafers. He was next seen suspended from an orange rope strung from builders' scaffolding beneath Blackfriars Bridge. As even the uninitiated generally know, orange is the keynote colour the Masonic Craft. Calvi's body was loaded with ballast, about forty kilos of stones stuffed into his pockets and bizarrely, his trouser flies. His calves' leather wallet contained £10,000 in sterling, Swiss francs, and Italian lira notes. His expensive though unwaterproofed Swiss watch stopped at just before 2 a.m., the point at which it was dipped in the water by the rising river tide. After 2:30 am, the level of the water would  not have been sufficiently high to reach Calvi 's wrist.
"That suicide would demand amazing agility for an overweight sixty-two-year-old man suffering from poor eyesight and pronounced vertigo. In a statement of doubtless unintended irony, Superintendent John White of the London river police declared: 'The long and the short of it is that we do not know how he came to be at the end of that rope.' The scene of the crime was drenched with mystical significance. The bridge lies in the area of London where the black-capped Dominican friars establish themselves in the mid-1300s. Black is the colour most often associated with fascism."
(Gladio: NATO'S Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 232-233)

Here's bit more on the symbolism of Calvi's murder:
"The site of Calvi's demise immediately arouses suspicion. Members of various Masonic lodges in Italy where black robes and address each other as friar. 'Black friars' – fratelli neri  – is an Italian nickname for Freemasons. The fact that masonry in the form of bricks was found on the body was deemed significant, as well as the Masonic oath stipulating that traitor should be 'roped down' in the proximity of the rising tide."
(The Vatican Exposed, Paul L. Williams, pg. 170)
While P2 undoubtedly wore black robes and referred to themselves as "black friars" this researcher has been unable to confirm whether or not this was common to Italian Freemasonry on the whole. All references linking Italian Freemasonry to the black friars label this researcher has found involve Calvi's murder and may well have confused the nickname and practices of P2 with those of the broader movement. This researcher is unaware of any other Masonic lodges that sported the bizarre, KKK-like robes P2 donned in their meetings. He has found at least one other curious reference to such an outfit involving another bizarre organization, however. But more on that in a future installment.

the so-called "black friars" of P2
There can be little doubt, however, that the Order of Preachers, more commonly known as the Dominican Order, sported black robes regularly. In point of fact, they were referred to as black friars in England and beyond centuries before P2. The Dominicans had originally set up shop in London near what is now the Blackfriars Bridge during the late Middle Ages.

The Dominicans are an interesting order. Founded by a Spanish priest known as Dominic de Guzman (now Saint Dominic), the order played a crucial role in the Inquisition during the Middle Ages. Saint Dominic was allowed to found his order in no small part due to the veal he displayed in persecuting the Cathars during the Albigensian Crusade. It is likely that the Dominican Order also played a key role in the "interrogations" of the Knights Templars as well.

Dominican founder Saint Dominic
It has of course long been alleged by conspiracy theorists that modern day Freemasonry is descended from the Knights Templar and possibly the Cathars as well. The former claim is not without some basis, which makes the decision of an Italian Masonic lodge to don robes commonly associated with an Order who persecuted the Templars a bit strange if P2 was in fact part of some grand Templar/Masonic conspiracy, as the conspiratorial right has long alleged. Given the curious assortment of Catholic secret societies that seem to have dominated P2, there is likely compelling reason in this context for the black robes, but this shall be addressed in a future installment.

Before moving along, its also interesting to note the appearance of the numbers 17 and 23 in conjunction with Calvi's death: he died on June 17th and the trial for his murder was not begun until 2005, 23 years later. His death occurred just six days before June 23, Midsummer's Night Eve (Christianized as St. John's Eve), historically one of the chief feast dates in pagan and Christian Europe. The numbers 17 and 23 have much mystical significance and were linked together by the great Robert Anton Wilson in his "phenomenon of 17 and 23." Much more on 17 and 23 can be found here while this researcher has done a write up on Midsummer's Night Eve before here. But moving along.

As for Calvi's trial, it was a farce from the get go. A ruling two years prior, in 2003, set the stage for the trail to ultimately be aborted:
"... In 2003, prosecutors made sure of this with a preliminary conclusion that even if Cosa Nostra had sufficient motives to kill Calvi, they also acted to prevent his blackmailing 'politico-institutional figures.' This was an oblique pointer to high-ranking members of P2 in the Vatican Bank. Marcinkus had already taken precautionary vows of silence and self-imposed internal exile in the papal statelet. From this moment he was known as 'the Prisoner of the Vatican.' Gelli was placed under investigation but escaped formal indictment, though not before he made matters hot for the Papacy by suggesting looted funds control by Calvi had found their way to Polish Solidarity. This was an accusation with strong foundations... Five charges were laid against the grand cashier Calo and Flavio Carboni, the second of the mob's ushers who escorted Calvi up to London. Carboni  typified the extent of the unexposed iceberg beneath the case. He had a conviction for fraud at Banco Ambrosiano. He could be traced to associates with known connections to SISMI (military intelligence) and the Roman Magliana criminal gang implicated in the murder of Aldo Moro. Carboni's connections extended to General Giuseppe Santovito, the boss of  SISMI military intelligence and a P2 affiliate bound up in so many political and terrorist scandals of the period.
"After twenty months hearing reams of evidence, the presiding judge, Mario Lucio d'Andria, suddenly aborted the trial for lack of evidence. He also reversed the earlier London verdict of suicide to 'murder by persons unknown.' This patently confusing and contradictory ruling at least offered a crumb of comfort to Calvi's family. But it drew gasps of astonishment from the legal profession and the critical media. It can only be explained by interference at the highest levels to halt the case before more damaging exposures rocked the Italian establishment. Italians composed a short list of suspects containing exactly two names: the P2 junior novitiate and serving Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and the coiled asp, Il Divo Andreotti, senator for life since 1991."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 233-234)
Silvio Berlusconi, three time Italian prime minister and former P2 initiate
After years of Calvi's death being listed a suicide, it was finally acknowledged as a murder in the last decade. Essentially this is all the extended Italian legal process has accomplished. The fact that Gelli seems to have escaped legal consequences by invoking the Polish Solidarity movement is interesting, as funds for Solidarity were closely related to those that went to various totalitarian regimes in Latin America. As Pope John Paul II's support of Solidarity is well known, it is likely that the funds that found there way to Latin America is what Gelli was slyly referencing. Apparently it did the trick.

Before wrapping it, a word should be said on the fate of Calvi's former partner, Michele Sindona. He clearly did not fare much better than Calvi:
"Michele Sindona was not around hear the final verdict on his old friend and ally. The serpent had long since struck his flapping tongue. Submitting to unrelenting pressure from Italian authorities, the US finally surrendered Sindona to the Italian judicial system for the crime of commissioning the murder of Georgio Ambrosoli, the lawyer investigating his bank frauds. He received a life sentence, which he proceeded to serve in the prison at Voghera in Lombardy, a peaceful small city renowned for its restoring sub-Alpine airs and fine lace. On the morning of 22nd March 1986, Sindona, now 66, portly and balding, drank his last cup of coffee, laced with potassium cyanide..."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pg. 234)
Apparently Sindona realized his coffee was laced with cyanide from the first sip, but then preceded to drink the rest of the cup anyway. He likely faced a worse fate had he not finished the coffee. It is interesting to note that Georgio Ambrosoli, the lawyer who's murder Sindona was convicted of commissioning, had also investigated the links between P2 and the wave of bombings that rocked Italy during the 1970s. Obviously he was not able to finish that investigation.

And with that I shall wrap up for now.  As I have moved on to the topic of political assassinations connected with P2, the next installment will continue in that vein. But the figures are even more compelling --popes and statesmen. Stay tuned dear reader.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Propaganda Due: A Strange and Terrible Journey Into the Heart of the Deep State Part IV

Welcome to the fourth installment in my examination of the notorious Italian Masonic lodge known Propaganda Due, or simply P2 for short. Over the years the lodge has been linked to a host of intrigues, including terror campaigns (in both Italy and abroad), drug trafficking, and political assassination as well as having extensive ties with the US intelligence community (and some with their Soviet counterparts as well). P2 was not merely a "state-within-a-state," as is often charged, but a wide reaching, clandestine organization that influenced the deep states of both Italy and numerous US client states across Europe and Latin America.

With the first installment of this series I primarily focused on P2's Venerable Grand Master, the former Blackshirt and SS man Licio Gelli. With the second installment I moved along to the likely role P2 played in a host of terrorist bombings that rocked Italy during a period referred to as the "Years of Lead" as well as P2's ties the notorious right wing terror network known as Aginter Press. With the third and most recent installment I began to consider the role P2 played in what is often referred to as the "Great Vatican banking scandal." Primarily I focused on the backgrounds of the three major players in the scandal, Bishop Paul Marcinkus, and financiers Michele Sindona and Roberto Calvi. All three men have been suspected of belonging to P2 at one time or another and it is definitively known as that these charges against Sindona and Calvi are true. It has also been conclusively proven that Sindona had extensive ties to the Mafia, especially the Genovese and Gambino families. It is highly probable that Calvi (and even Marcinkus) also had such ties.

Bishop Paul Marcinkus
When last we left off, things had begun to go a little sour for Michele Sindona (who was sometimes known as "The Shark" by associates) shortly after he acquired Franklin National Bank, a large US bank.
"... a huge hole appeared in Franklin National Bank, a financial institution that Sindona bought in 1972, as result the Shark's fraudulent removals. The appearance of the hole seemed inexplicable. Franklin National was the 18th largest bank in the United States and one of the healthiest, with assets of $3.3 billion. But Sindona within two years managed into the empty Long Island institution of its coffers. The U.S. government, fearing the collapse of the Long Island bank could have serious repercussions throughout the country, provided Sindona with unlimited funds to keep the banks solvent. Between September and October 1974, over $1 billion flowed from the Federal Reserve into Franklin. Such efforts proved to be of no avail. On October 8, Franklin National collapsed, causing losses of over $2 billion to the Federal Deposit Insurance Company. It was the biggest bank failure in American history and the first since the Great Depression.
"Combing the ashes of the Franklin National, U.S. officials discovered that Sindona had pilfered $45 million from the bank on the eve of its demise – an amount that he squandered in his attempts to manipulate foreign currency speculations and to shore-up the losses in his Italian operations."
(The Vatican Exposed, Paul L. Williams, pgs. 142-143)

It was all for naught, however. Sindona's financial empire began to rapidly unwind. By 1976 he was facing charges in Italy and beginning to wear out his welcome in these United States. Over the years interesting theories have been put forward as to where the money Sindona siphoned out of Franklin National ended up. One of the most compelling involves arms.
"In 1972, the democratic congress to cut off funds for President Nixon's war in Central America. Nixon engaged Sindona to acquire control of the Franklin National Bank. Two years later it collapse.
"The courts determined Sindona and Nixon had siphoned off large sums of the bank's money to Somoza and other dictators in Central America to suppress the revolution of the poor there. The Patrimony of the Holy See took a $40 million hit when the Franklin Bank went under to the extent the IOR had guaranteed the transactions."
(Murder in the Vatican, Lucien Gregoire, pg. 352)
This researcher has been unable to turn enough confirmation to definitively endorse Gregoire's above claim but certainly Sindona had forged close ties with both Nicaraguan dictator Somoza and Nixon by this time. And there is certainly compelling evidence that Sindona's successor, Roberto Calvi, would contribute funds to Somoza and host of other ring wing Latin American dictatorships. On that note, consider:
"Throughout the 1970s the Vatican bank had established close ties with Banco Ambrosiano in Milan, where Calvi remained as the chief executive officer. Bishop Marcinkus sat on the board of one of Ambrosiano's subsidiary branches in the Bahamas. Banco Ambrosiano was a Catholic bank, a financial firm for Catholic families and Catholic charities, where no one could own more than 5% of the stock. For this reason, it represented a perfect laundry for P-2 and the Mafia. But two problems remain to be solved. First was the problem of gaining control of the bank without arousing unnecessary suspicion among the directors. Second was the challenge of getting vast amounts of money out of the Milan bank without arousing the attention of criminal investigators.
"Calvi solved both problems with help of his friend Bishop Paul Marcinkus and the Vatican Bank. He began to loan huge sums of Ambrosiano's money to eight 'dummy' corporations. To give these corporations and aura of legitimacy, the loans were diverted to the Vatican Bank (causing Ambrosiano bank directors to believe that the corporations were concerns of Holy Mother Church). Six of these corporations were in Panama: Astolfine S. A., United Trading Corporation, Erin S. A., Bellatrix S. A., Belrose, S. A., and Starfield S. A. The seventh firm – Manic S. A.  – was located in Luxembourg; the eighth – Nordeurop Establishment in Liechtenstein. These corporations used the borrowed millions to accomplish the following objectives:  (1) to increase the personal wealth of Calvi and his Mafia cohort; (2) to fund the nefarious operations of Licio Gelli; and (3) to purchase shares of Ambrosiano stock. When asked for collateral for  the loans, the Panamanian companies simply posted the Ambrosiano stock they had purchased along with statements of inflated assets and projections of future profits from exports."
(The Vatican Exposed, Paul L. Williams, pgs. 165-166)

And what were these "nefarious operations of Licio Gelli"? Here is one example:
"... Calvi was ostensibly in Buenos Aires to discuss with Argentine authorities the opening of a local Banco Ambrosiano branch. In fact, Calvi, Gelli...  invited the entire naval general staff to dinner. At the end of the meal the admirals asked how they might finance the purchase of fifty AM39 Exocet missiles for their naval aviation. Each Exocet  cost $1 million, so the admirals were talking about a $50 million package. As Exocets  were manufactured in Italy under license from the French firm of Aerospatiale, Calvi  was able to provide an easy answer. He arranged for financing which, as no record of it was uncovered in the Ambrosiano accounts, one supposes was routed through the United Trading network."
(Their Kingdom Come, Robert Hutchison, pg. 251)

Calvi would develop a curious knack for appearing in war torn nations on the verge of toppling right wing dictatorship looking to open branches of Banco Ambrosiano. This is not what many would consider prudent financial sense though some have suggested that Calvi was looking to make money off of either warring faction when he made such moves.
"... Calvi had opened a branch of his empire in Managua in September 1977. The bank was called Ambrosiano Group Banco Comercial. It's official function was 'conducting international commercial transactions.' Its actual function was to move from the Nassau branch, with director Bishop Paul Marcinkus' approval, a large amount of the evidence that would reveal the fraudulent and criminal devices used in the share  pushing/acquisition of the Milan parent bank. Nicaragua removed the evidence  even farther from the eyes of the Bank of Italy. As always there was a price to be paid. Gelli had smoothed the way with introductions to Nicaragua's dictator Anastasio Somoza. After several million dollars had been dropped into the dictator's pocket, he announced that it would be an excellent ideal for Calvi to open a branch in his country. One of the side benefits for Calvi was the acquisition of a Nicaraguan diplomatic passport, something he retained to the end of his life.
"Calvi and Gelli appraised the political situation in Nicaragua with its growing possibility of Sandinistan rebel role in the not too distant future. These men, who had carried both Fascist and Partisan membership papers during the Second World War, had not changed a lifetime's habit of being double-faced or, in banking terms, prudent. Calvi gave equally large amounts of money to the rebels – some went to buy grain, someone to buy arms.
"Early in 1979 the left-wing takeover of Nicaragua became a reality. Like many left-wing takeovers before, this one promptly nationalized all foreign banks – with one exception: the Ambrosiano Group Banco Comercial continued to trade under Roberto Calvi. Even left-wing idealists, it would seem, have a price."
(In God's Name, David Yallop, pg. 265)
Indeed. But there is much dispute over how much assistance Calvi actually gave to the Sandinistas. It would seem that the overwhelming amount of his largess went to the Somoza regime. After the dictator was removed, the rebels had difficulties finding funds in Calvi's bank.
"It is the thesis of Avro Manhattan, the bank scandal transactions which occurred before the fall of Somoza (July 1979) were funneled to Somoza to halt the Sandinistas impending takeover of Nicaragua.
"Manhattan was on firm ground in thinking this way.
"For March 14, 1979 through July 14, 1979, the Patrimony – the Vatican's central bank – transferred $383 million under the guise of 'loans' to shell companies in the Ambrosiano  branch in Managua Nicaragua. The related notes were in the name of the IOR.
"By mid-August the Sandinistas had seized manufactured plants, banks and other facilities that had supported Somoza. Among these was the Ambrosiano branch in Managua. The balance in the shell company accounts the Vatican had loaned $383 million was 'zero.' "
(Murder in the Vatican, Lucien Gregoire, pg. 355)

The Patrimony of the Holy See (top) is the actual Vatican central bank and not the IOR (bottom) as is commonly claimed 
It would seem that up the very Ambrosiano made funds available to Somoza's withering army. Gregoire goes on the speculate that after the dictator was deposed the funds were looted by members of his security forces to use to fund what would eventually become known as the Contras.

This is not a bad theory. During this time period, during the Carter administration, funding had been cut off to Nicaragua after years of Somoza's brutal rule. This upset many within the American national security apparatus whom considered Somoza to be integral to the containment of communism in Latin America. It was the old domino theory, in other words, that held that one communist regime in Latin America would lead to another and another until the United States was totally isolated.

After Somoza was deposed the US intelligence community began funneling millions to the remnants of his army and other right wing forces in Central America in what would eventually become known as the Iran-Contra scandal. The Vatican played a crucial role in the funding of these operations.

It is quite possible that Calvi, prudent business man that he was, had opted to hedge his bets and support the Sandinistas up to a certain point. Unfortunately for Calvi, he likely did this with monies procured from individuals who were far more driven by ideology than profits. This may have been one factor in Calvi's faith on Blackfriars Bridge. But more on that in the next installment.

After the Banco Ambrosiano branch was closed in Nicaragua Calvi seems to have moved this operation to Peru. From this branch funds continued to flow to what would become known as the Contras.
"After the Sandinistas seized the Nicaraguan branch, Ambrosiano opened a branch in Peru. From this point on the scandal money – $970 million – was deposited in the IOR by the Lima bank and then loaned to the Panamanian and European offshore shell companies.
"Of this, $444 million was transferred to a Panamanian affiliate of the First International Bank of Houston. The related IOR notes were issued to shell companies operating throughout Central America...
"Let us step back a bit. On the eve of the Sandinistas' takeover, a plane disguised with Red Cross markings flew into Managua and rescued two hundred of Somoza's National Guardsmen and flew them to a CIA compound in Miami. On October 16, 1979, they were flown to a CIA training camp in Honduras bordering Nicaragua.
"There are other Contra groups operating in Central America. Yet, these are what we are speaking when we say 'Contras' – remnants of Somoza's army trained by the CIA with a mission to contain the Sandinistas within Nicaragua and possibly destroy them altogether...
"On October 16, 1979 – a year to the day John Paul II took office and the same day on which the Contras were flown into Honduras by the CIA – the Lima branch made a deposit of $134 million in the IOR which 'loaned' it through the Patrimony of the Holy See to a Panamanian shell company United Trading Corporation. It was followed by another $330 million to the other Panamanian shells. It disappeared and no one has ever found out what happened to it.
"The Lima branch deposited another $463 million in the account of the IOR and the Patrimony which 'loaned' it to shell companies in Liechtenstein and Luxembourg. This money was partially recovered by the courts that tried the case in the 1980s...
"The courts determined the money that disappeared in Nicaragua and Panama was drawn down in cash – not wired to banks and investment houses; they were not able to determine what happened to it.
"One could speculate private men – Calvi, Gelli and Sindona – drew the money in Nicaraguan currency – Cordoba – and laundered it through the local black market for a fraction of its face value. This makes no sense when they could have run all the money through the Ambrosiano Nassau  or other 'offshore' branches. It would have been readily available in European currencies with no risk at all.
"Of the $463 million wired to Liechtenstein and Luxembourg $215 million was recovered. $248 million had been drawn down in cash and the courts were unable to determine what happened to it.
"The courts charged that the shell companies the Vatican 'loaned' the $1.3 billion were actually owned by the Vatican.
"Generally, this could not be proved because of immunity of the Holy See from Italian courts provided under the Lateran Treaty. Yet, the courts did prove Ambrosiano created the shell 'United Trading Company' in 1970 and the IOR had acquired all its shares in 1974.
"On the other hand, the same courts determined that a half-dozen of the Panamanian shells, including Astolfine, Erin and Fisalma, had been created by the CIA for espionage activities in connection with the Cold War. This may have been linked to – reasonable but not proved – CIA Director George Bush who was the chairman of the First International Bank of Houston at the time of the bank scandal."
(Murder in the Vatican, Lucien Gregoire, pgs. 356-358)
Bush I may have played a role in these shenanigans while serving chairman of the First International Bank of Houston
In other words the Vatican, in collaboration with the CIA (and possibly the Mafia), was channeling funds to the Contras and other Central American "freedom fighters." Some of these funds were also reportedly being funneled to the Polish Solidarity movement that was gaining momentum around this time. Calvi and Banco Ambrosiano were the chief instruments for these transfers. Previously Calvi's role had likely been played by Michele Sindona, who also backed Somoza and many of the South American Condor nations in the mid-1970s when US aid began to dry up in the wake of Watergate.

And it was Gelli and the P2 network that brought all of these players --the Vatican, the mob, the Italian deep state, the US intelligence community, and these Latin American dictatorships --together. Or at least in part. Certainly P2 was not the only such right wing network with similar ties. The World Anti-Communist League (WACL) featured many of the same players but also had extensive affiliates throughout Asia and the Middle East. More on the WACL network and its ties to drug trafficking, terrorism and assassinations can be found here.

Preposterous, you may be saying. Certainly it seems a stretch --and yet Calvi in the infamous letter he allegedly wrote Pope John Paul II shortly before his murder strongly hints at his role in "deep" activities in Poland and Central America.
"Calvi's letter dated June 5th, 1982 to the Pope is rather more than a plea for papal intercession to save his life. Certainly he realises that he is in severe trouble. He also recognises that whatever protection may once have been extended by P2 and by Licio Gelli in particular is no longer available. He has also been cut loose by Marcinkus. Calvi  began by warning the Pope that Banco Ambrosiano was about to collapse, which he said would be a disaster for the church. Then he turned to the 'millions of dollars' which he had devoted to papal projects in South America and Eastern Europe. 'There are many of those who promised me helped me on the condition that I would not talk about activities I conducted on the part of the church – and especially many of those who would like to know if I supplied arms and weapons to some South American regimes to help them combat our common enemies, and if I had supplied economical means to Solidarnosc  and other financing to the countries of the East. Summing up, I asked that all the sums that I gave to the projects of serving political and economic expansion of the church, that the thousands of millions of dollars which I gave to Solidarnosc with the express will of the Vatican and the sums which I have employed to organise the financial centres (banks) and the political power in five South American countries, will be returned to me. These sums would amount to $1.75 billion.' Calvi concluded his epistle by saying that he was seeking 'serenity and merely to live in peace.' The sum that he mentioned as owing to him was close to the $1.3 billion shortfall investigators identified in the books of Banco Ambrosiano."
(Gladio: NATO'S Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pg 228)
John Paul II was apparently unmoved by Calvi's pleas
Perhaps then Gregoire and other Vatican "conspiracy theorists" are not far from the mark as far as the banking scandal is concerned. At this point it is interesting to note that one of Calvi's final moves as head of Banco Ambrosiano before his death involved the notorious Rothschild banking dynasty, a long time bugaboo of the conspiratorial right.

the Rothschild coat of arms
Specifically, Calvi became involved in a shady deal that also included the Zurich branch of the Rothschild banking empire. It concerned an effort Calvi made to gain control the Italian publishing empire known as Rizzoli. In this endeavor he was assisted by fellow P2 member and Sovereign Military Order of Malta initiate Umberto Ortolani, of whom much more will be said in a future installment. For now, consider:
"The next phase of the $260 million Rizzoli deal took place at the end of April, with a $95 million transfer from Banco Ambrosiano Andino to the account of the Zirka Corporation, Monrovia, at Rothschild Bank in Zürich. This money was labeled as a loan to Bellatrix, a Panamanian company. Bellatrix was a child of United Trading. The $95 million for Bellatrix joined another $46.5 million that had been transferred to Rothschild Bank from Ambrosiano Services, Luxembourg, earlier that year, supposedly to purchase a block of 189,000 Rizzoli shares held at Rothschild Bank, at a price twenty times over market value. To these transfers would be added another $8 million, bringing the total amount received by Bellatrix to around $150 million. But there were several anomalies here that only came to light following later investigations. First, although Bellatrix belonged to United Trading, it was Ortolani and Bruno Tassan Din, the Rizzoli managing director, who controlled its operations. Second, Rothschild Bank claimed it had no Bellatrix account on its books. Third, the name of Bellatrix did not appear on Rizzoli's share register."
(Their Kingdom Come, Robert Hutchison, pg. 271)

There are indications that some of this money was siphoned and used to fund some of Gelli's "nefarious operations."
"Bellatrix, a dummy firm in Panama, had been created by Calvi and Marcinkus along with a trinity of P-2 members –Licio Gelli, Umberto Ortolani (who had received the Vatican title of 'Gentleman of His Holiness' from Pope Paul VI) and Bruno Tassan Din, managing director of the huge Rizzoli publishing firm. Bellatrix used a portion of the $184 million it milked from the Ambrosiano cash cow to purchase Exocet missiles for Argentina in its struggle with England over the Falkland Islands. The dummy corporation had received this loan, secured on paper with Ambrosiano stock, with cash capital of less than $10,000..."
(The Vatican Exposed, Paul L. Williams, pg. 166)
Did Calvi, Gelli and company attempt to run a savage burn on the Rothschild so as to procure money for arms for some of their Latin American allies? Certainly there have been rumblings that the Rothschilds played some role in Calvi's death. And at least one murder linked to the Jewish banking dynasty may have played into the Vatican banking scandal. These things along with a series of armed car robberies that unfolded in the mid-1980s and Calvi's bizarre, ritualistic death shall be considered in the next installment. Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Propaganda Due: A Strange and Terrible Journey Into the Heart of the Deep State Part III

Welcome to the third installment in my ongoing examination of the notorious Masonic lodge known as Propaganda Due, or P2 for short. The Italian secret society first gained widespread exposure in the early 1980s when it was linked to a host of scandals that threatened to topple the Italian government. In the decades that have followed compelling evidence has emerged that not only did P2 serve as a kind of state-within-a-state but also that its range was vast, stretching across multiple continents and ensnaring a host of VIPs of various stripes.

With the first installment of this series I primarily focused upon P2's Venerable Grand Master, the former Black Shirt and SS man Licio Gelli. With the second installment I outlined evidence linking P2 to a series of terrorists bombings that rocked Italy in a period often referred to as the "Years of Lead." P2's links to the Lisbon-based fascist terror network known as Aginter Press (or the Press gang) was also noted in that installment.

Venerable Grand Master Licio Gelli (top) and "God's Terrorist" Yves Guerin Serac (bottom), the founder of Aginter Press
For this present piece I would like to consider P2's role in what is commonly referred to as the "Vatican banking scandal." This scandal began unfolding at some point in the 1960s but did not blow up until the early 1980s. At least three popes --Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II --seemingly played a role as far as this researcher can determine and there is compelling evidence that the sudden death of John Paul I was linked to this scandal. There may be ties to the attempted assassination of John Paul II as well but these things will not be broached until a future installment. For now I would like to consider the three men chiefly credited with facilitating the scandal: Bishop Paul Marcinkus and financiers Michele "the Shark" Sindona and "God's banker" Roberto Calvi.

Of these three individuals, at least two --Sindona and Calvi --have been revealed as members of Propaganda Due. It has long been suspected that Bishop Marcinkus had been initiated as well but this has never been confirmed definitively. Marcinkus did, however, seem to have gained a familiarity with organized crime at a young age. The future bishop, who was born in 1922, grew up in the Chicago suburb of Cicero during the heyday of Al Capone and the Chicago mob.

None the less he ended up in the clergy in 1947 despite having ideal measurements for more physical demanding pursuits: Marcinkus stood 6'3 and was solidly built all around. Reportedly he was an excellent football player as well and would later find good use for his physicality. Five years later, in 1952, he would find himself in Italy where he made what would prove to be a life-changing friendship: namely, he became acquainted with Giovanni Battista Montini, who a little over a decade later would be known as Pope Paul VI. In 1952 Marcinkus would also begin the first stages of his international career when he was tapped by the Vatican to serve overseas.
"... Marcinkus was transferred to the English section of the Vatican Secretary of State's office in 1952. Tours of duty attached to the Papal Nuncios of Bolivian Canada followed, then in 1959 he returned to Rome and the Secretary of State's Department. His fluency in Spanish and Italian insured his constant employment as an interpreter.
"In 1962 the Cardinal of New York, Francis Spellman, advised Pope Paul during one of his frequent trips to Rome that Marcinkus was a priest with an excellent potential. In view of the fact that Spellman headed the wealthiest diocese in the world at the time, and was frequently referred to as 'Cardinal Moneybags' – a tribute to his financial genius – the Pope began quietly to monitor Paul Marcinkus.
"In 1964, during a visit to down-town Rome, the over-enthusiastic crowds were in danger of trampling the Vicar of Christ underfoot. Suddenly Marcinkus appeared. Using shoulders, elbows and hands he physically clove a path through the crowds for the frightened Pope. The following day the Pope summoned him for personal thanks. From then on he became the unofficial bodyguard to the Pope and his nickname, The Gorilla, was born.
"In December 1964 he accompanied Pope Paul to India; the following year to the United Nations. By now Marcinkus had taken over the duties of security advisor on such trips. Personal bodyguard. Personal security advisor. Personal translator. The boy from Cicero had come far..."
(In God's Name, David Yallop, pgs. 93-94)
Indeed. But Marcinkus was only getting started. By the mid-1960s he would become one of the most powerful financial figures within the Vatican.
"In 1963, when Paul VI began monitoring his career, Marcinkus was supervising the construction of Rome's most luxurious priests' residents, the Villa Stritch. Paul VI asked him to help his personal secretary, Father Pasquale Macchi, organize the Eucharist Congress planned for Bombay at the end of the year. Marcinkus and Macchi hit it off well. For the next few years they virtually ran the papal household, and anyone hoping for a confidential chat with the Holy Father had to pass through them. Marcinkus  masterminded the Pope's eight remaining foreign journeys, and saved Paul's life by overpowering a knife-wielding assailant as he lunged through the crowd at Manila's international airport.
"After Spellman's death in 1967, US contributions to the Vatican decreased significantly. Father Macchi suggested that Marcinkus might be the man to reverse the situation. The idea appealed to the pontiff who decided to shift Marcinkus into a vacant position at the IOR, under the octogenarian Cardinal Di Jorio. Marcinkus  was an excellent organizer but had no experience as a banker. He requested time off to visit a couple of big money-centre banks, study their systems and see from the inside how they operated. The request granted, he went to Chase Manhattan in New York, in his own words, 'for a day or two... to see how stocks and stuff operated', and then to Continental Illinois in Chicago, where he was given 'a kind of three-day course, taking me through everything'. He spent another day with the Continental Finance Corporation in Chicago to learn about trust operations, followed by a final day-long tour of a small bank. In those seven days, Marcinkus became an international banker, equipped to play a leading role in managing the Vatican's finances. On Christmas Eve 1968, Paul VI made him titular Bishop of Orta, and two weeks later confirmed the new bishop's appointment as the IOR's secretary. Marcinkus's starting salary was $6,400 per annum."
(Their Kingdom Come, Robert Hutchison, pgs. 239-240)

IOR stands for Institute of Religious Works. While this institution is commonly referred to as the "Vatican bank", this is a bit misleading. In point of fact, the Patrimony of the Apostolic See is the actual treasury and central bank of the Vatican. None the less, the IOR is an extremely important institute. Originally envisioned as kind of investment bank, it would dispense a great deal of largess to questionable parties during Marcinkus' tenure running the institute. But more on that in a moment.

The next figure up for consideration is financier Michele Sindona. While it has been widely speculated that Marcinkus had ties to both P2 and the Mafia, there is no speculation with Sindona. He was both a P2 member and essentially a banker for the mob. His ties to the latter began at a very early age. Amusingly, the native Sicilian seems to have first linked up with the Mafia at the urging of various Catholic priests.
"After graduating from the University of Messina in 1942 with a degree in tax law, Michele Sindona earned a lucrative living by buying and selling on the black market. He bought food and supplies that had been stolen from the American PX in Palermo and smuggled it to Messina where it was sold to the starving population for a huge profit. To gain permission to engage in this business, Sindona turned to the Archbishop of Messina who introduced him to Vito Genovese, who had returned to Sicily after being accused of the gangland slaying of Ferdinand 'the Shadow' Boccia, a small-time crook in America.
"Genovese, who was known as 'Don Vitone,' was one of the leading figures in Murder, Inc. As underboss to Lucky Luciano (Salvatore Lucania), he ran the narcotics racket and the white slavery trade in Manhattan. Along with his boss, Genovese he had planned and executed the murder of Joe Masseria, the American Mafia's 'boss of all bosses.'
"The arrangement worked well. Sindona granted Genovese a percentage of his profits for protection and Genovese granted the young entrepreneur freedom to operate without interference from other Mafiosi. Sindona was not alone in this enterprise. Everybody in the Sicilian Mafia from the capos to the lowest piciotto was making a bundle. Almost everything that Italians ate, wore, smoke, and drove during the Allied Occupation came from American military bases. 'How did I accumulate my fortune?' Don Luciano Leggio  explained to his prosecutors in court many years later. 'I did the black market during and after the war. Just think! You could buy a quintal of grain from the Farm Board for  2,000 , 2,500 lire and sell it on the black market for 15,000.'
"Don Luciano Leggio was not only a Mafia capo but also the leader of Anonima Sequestri, a quasi-fascist political group in Palermo. Leggio befriended Sindona and accepted him into his crime family. Through the capo, Michele came to know Fr. Agostino Coppola, who later was accused of master-minding one murder and the kidnapping of several Italian business and political leaders. Fr. Coppola was not the only Catholic priest in the Sicilian Mafia. The clergy regularly crossed the line of peaceful co-existence with the mob. In 1962, four Franciscan monks were tried, convicted and sentenced to 13 years imprisonment for conspiracy, extortion, and manslaughter. In 1978, Fr. Fernando Taddei, prior of St. Angelo's Cathedral in Rome, was arrested for buying ransom money – at 70% of face value – from his Mafia family and washing it through Vatican financial institutions. Such laundering was necessary since ransom money was numbered and easily traced. Sindona, from the start of his career, learned to look upon Catholic prelates not only a spiritual pastors but also as potential partners in crime."
(The Vatican Exposed, Paul L. Williams, pgs. 103-105)
Don Vito Genovese, longtime head of the Genovese crime family and one of the most powerful figures in the annuals of organized crime, was Sindona's initial patron
By the late 1950s Sindona had become a key financial adviser to the mob.
"The Mafia family Gambino were particularly taken with the young Sindona and his dexterity at placing dollar investments without reference to tiresome tax regulations. The Gambino family has global interest but it's two main power centres are New York and Palermo. The former is controlled by the Gambinos, the latter by their Sicilian cousins the Inzerillos. On November 2nd, 1957 there was a 'family' reunion in the Grand Hotel des Palmes, Palermo. Also invited to enjoy the wine and food was Michele Sindona.
"The Gambino family made Sindona an offer he accepted with enthusiasm. They wanted him to manage the family's re-investment of the huge profits just beginning to accure from the sales of heroin. They needed a laundryman. Sindona, with his proven abilities at moving amounts of money in and out of Italy without disturbing the tranquility of the Government's taxation departments, was an ideal choice. Added to this ability was the fact that he was by the time of the Mafia summit conference already a director of an increasing number of companies. He frequently said to grateful clients, 'No, I'll take payments in some shares in your company.' He had also begun to perfect the technique of acquiring troubled companies, dividing them up, selling off pieces, merging other pieces, shuffling everything sideways  and then selling at a large profit. It was dazzling to behold, particularly if you were not paying the conjuror.
"Within seventeen months of the Mafia summit conference Sindona bought his first bank, aided by Mafia funding. Sindona had already discovered one of the cardinal rules of theft: the best way to steal from a bank is to buy one. "
(In God's Name, David Yallop, pgs. 96-97)
This was the beginning of what would become a multimillion dollar financial empire by the early 1960s. But before the 1950s had even come to a close Sindona seems to have forged ties with two other interests that would later serve him well: the upper hierarchy of the Vatican and the US intelligence community.
"In 1959, the same year in which he acquired BPF, Sindona made another very shrewd investment. The Archbishop of Milan was trying to raise money for an old people's home. Sindona stepped in and raised the entire amount: 2.4 million dollars. When Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini opened the Casa della Madonnina, Sindona was by his side. The two men became firm friends, with Montini relying more and more on Sindona's advice in problems other than diocesan investments.
"What Cardinal Montini may not have known is that the 2.4 million dollars were supplied to Sindona very largely from two sources: the Mafia and the CIA. Former CIA agent Victor Marchetti was later to reveal:
In  the 1950s and the 1960s the CIA gave economic support to many activities promoted by the Catholic Church, from orphanages to the missions. Millions of dollars each year were given to a great number of Bishops and Monsignors. One of them was Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini. It is possible that Cardinal Montini did not know where the money was coming from. He may have thought it was coming from friends."
(In God's Name, David Yallop, pgs. 97-98)
Pope Paul VI (Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini), who may have unwittingly opened the Vatican up to a host of unsavory influences
This was not to be the only dealings Sindona had with these peculiar America friends. In 1969 Sindona would acquire control of Rome's Daily American, a newspaper that was previously subsidized by the CIA. Several other favors followed during this time frame:
"... In 1970 the CIA had asked him to buy a 2 million bond issue from the National Bank of Yugoslavia. Sindona obliged. The CIA placed the bonds in Yugoslavia in what they considered 'friendly hands.' Sindona also moved money on behalf of the CIA into the hands of right-wing groups in Greece and Italy."
(In God's Name, David Yallop, pg. 119) 
Let us return to the Daily American episode for a moment, however. Mark Antinucci, the Italo-American who owned the Daily American, had reportedly first made Sindona aware of Pope Paul VI's personal secretary, Paul Marcinkus, in 1967. Shortly thereafter the two men struck up a friendship. It was also around this time that Sindona became involved with Licio Gelli and P2 as well. Fixing a precise year as to when Sindona was officially initiated into the lodge is difficult as this researcher has found several accounts that vary from between 1967 and 1977, but there can be little doubt that Sindona was running in the same circles as Gelli by the late 1960s.

Did the CIA-funded Rome Daily America play a key role in bringing together Marcinkus, Sindona and the P2 network?
During this time frame Sindona was also making powerful contacts within the American financial and political circles as well.
"Sindona, made other important friends, including...  David Kennedy, President Nixon's first Secretary of the Treasury and Chairman of the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company. Sindona managed to have the bulk of the Vatican's investment in U.S. stocks funneled through Conneaut Illinois. Similarly, Kennedy arrangde for Continental Illinois to purchase 20% of Sindona's Banca Privata Finanziaria in Milan. Kennedy became a director of Fasco International, one of Sindona's holding companies, and was later sued for $54 million by the Italian government for illegally conspiring with Sindona to sell Talcott Corporation, an asset of Banca Privata Finanziaria, to a group of Utah businessman.
"Sindona also became friendly with Richard Nixon. The two lunched together on several occasions. Nixon, in fact, had recommended to many of his clients and associates that they should avail them selves of Sindona's expert investment banking services."
(The Vatican Exposed, Paul L. Williams, pg. 125)

This was about par the course for the company Nixon was keeping during this time. He also managed to rub elbows with William Mellon Hitchcock at seemingly the same time he was having dealings with Sindona. Hitchcock was an heir to the Mellon family fortune (one of the oldest and richest of the various Eastern Establishment dynasties) and in the late 1960s had become the banker for the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, the largest LSD distribution network in the world during this era. It was in this capacity that he found himself rubbing elbows with Tricky Dick.
"Hitchcock took full advantage of his unlimited borrowing privileges at Fiduciary... he  poured over $500,000 into unregistered 'letter stocks' (the kind that aren't traded publicly but tend to show dramatic gains on paper) associated with the Mary Carter Paint Company, later known as Resorts International. It was the single largest chunk of money raised by Resorts, an organizations suspected of having ties to organized crime. Resorts International proceeded to build a casino on an exclusive piece of Bahamian real estate called Paradise Island. A star-studded cast was on hand for the grand opening of the gambling spa, complete with tennis courts, swimming pools, albino beaches, and the clear blue waters of the Caribbean. It was New Year's Eve 1968 and the guest of honor at the gala event was none other than Richard Nixon, who was about to launch a successful bid for the White House. James Crosby, president of Resorts International, contributed $100,000 to Nixon's campaign. Crosby and Bebe Rebozo, Nixon's best friend, mingled with a bevy of movie stars, jetsetters, gangsters, and GOP faithful. Billy Hitchcock was also there, idling among the heavies with drink in hand."
(Acid Dreams, Martin A. Lee & Bruce Shlain, pg. 245)
Hitchcock is to the right; this researcher has written much more on Hitchcock and the Mellon family before here
Hitchcock was soon to depart from the Brotherhood and his role was taken over by the enigmatic Robert Hadley Stark. As I detailed before here, Stark (who would dominate the world LSD market for nearly a decade) had ties to P2. Its also interesting to note that Paul Marcinkus would become a regular at Paradise Island in the early 1970s. At the time he was a director on the board of the Bahamian bank Banco Ambrosiano Overseas. Earlier Marcinkus had been assisted in his crash course in banking by David Kennedy's Continental Illinois bank. And Kennedy of course served as Secretary of Treasury for Richard Nixon, who is alleged to have had an account at another notorious (and CIA/Mafia linked) Bahamian financial institution known as Castle Bank & Trust. But moving along.

By the mid-1970s Sindona was at the apex of his influence. Not only was he flying high, but there are indications that he developed a bit of a sense of humor concerning his acquisitions. For instance he became a major holder in the American giant Gulf and Western during this time. Gulf and Western in turn owned Paramount Studios, which in 1972 would unleash The Godfather, an Oscar-winning film that has done more than any other picture to glorify organized crime. Ironically the plotline of the third installment in the acclaimed franchise would be inspired by the shenanigans Sindona, Marcinkus and P2 were getting up to at the time Sindona's holdings were developing the first film.

Naturally it was at the peak that Sindona's financial empire started its gradual process of unraveling. The catalyst was Sindona's purchase of what was then the twentieth largest bank in these United States. As the institute was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy at the time there is more than a hint of megalomania behind Sindona's actions.
"For the moment, Sindona soared on top of the world. He owned a score of banks around Italy, which he proceeded to milk to build a personal fortune approaching $500 million. This collection fitted neatly with his humming cash register in the heart of the Vatican. He shipped at least $40 million in St. Peter's Pence through the IOR to his private accounts in Switzerland. Marcinkus creamed off millions in fees for the church poor box, P2 and of course, himself. Sindona now made the elementary mistake of many ambitious men who reach for the sky. The son of an impoverished Sicilian family yearned for a truly heavyweight American bank to command real respect. He duly got it in 1972, in the shape of Long Island's Franklin National. He was Icarus now, gradually feeling the heat. In April 1974, Franklin National plunged south in the worldwide stock market crunch and so did Sindona. In the autumn, Franklin National was declared insolvent. Sindona's vast network of swindles was thus revealed to the world. The lifeboat victims included, thanks to Marcinkus, the Holy See, to the tune of $30 million. Sindona was hung out to dry on a string of conspiracy charges in the United States and Italy. Like other figures finding themselves in similar difficulties... it would all end – as such matters are wont to do in Italy – with a morning sip of prison coffee."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 225-226)
Sindona pre-prison coffee
More on that faithful sip of prison coffee in the next installment. For now we must consider the third figure in our present narrative, God's Banker Roberto Calvi. Just as Sindona was beginning to go up in flames did the mustached banker emerge as a major player in the P2 saga. But before getting to that, here's a bit about the background of the man sometimes known as "the Knight."
"Roberto Calvi was born in Milan on April 13th, 1920, but his family roots are in the Valtellina, a long alpine valley near the Swiss border... After studying at the prestigious Bocconi University he fought for Mussolini on the Russian front in the Second World War. Then he followed his father into banking. In 1947 he went to work for Banco Ambrosiano in Milan. Deriving its name from St. Ambrose, the bank exuded religiosity. Like Banca Cattolica del Veneto it was known as 'The Priest's Bank'. Baptismal certificates establishing the holder was Catholic were obligatory before a bank account could be opened. Prayers thanking God for the annual figures were offered at the end of board meetings. In the early 1960s there was a greater air of reverence inside the bank than in a number of nearby churches. The Knight with the ice-cold eyes had other plans for the sleepy diocesan bank which included among its customers the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, Giovanni Montini. By the time Montini became Pope Paul VI in 1963 Calvi had advanced within the bank to Central Manager. When Pope Paul decided to call Sindona into the Vatican to relieve the Church of its embarrassingly large Italian holdings, The Shark in The Knight were close friends. They were already plotting to gain control of Banco Ambrosiano and transform it into a very special kind of international banking institution. In 1971, Calvi became Managing Director of the Bank. At fifty-one years of age he had risen far above his father's humble clerical position. The average man might have been content to rest on his laurels for a while and enjoy leading the prayers of the board meeting. The only thing that was average about Roberto Calvi was his height. His ability to dream up crooked schemes for laundering Mafia money, exporting lire  illegally, evading tax, concealing the criminal acts of buying shares in his own bank, rigging the Milan Stock Market, for bribery, for corruption, for perverting the course of justice, arranging a wrongful arrest here, a murder there – his ability to do all of this and more puts The Knight in a very special criminal class. Calvi was prone to advise all and sundry that if they really wanted to understand the ways of the world that they should read Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather. He carried a copy everywhere, rather like a priest with his Bible.
"Calvi and was introduced to Bishop Marcinkus by Sindona in 1971 and instantly joined the very select Vatican clan of 'uomo di fiducia', men of trust: that select group of laymen who worked with and for Vatican Incorporated ..."
(In God's Name, David Yallop, pgs. 128-129)
ever faithful
It was also around this time that Calvi was initiated into P2. When Sindona's close associate Michele Sindona and his financial empire began to go down in flames in the wake of the crash of Franklin Nation the Vatican suddenly found itself with a massive hole on its books. Calvi was the man Vatican Inc (via Marcinkus) turned to to shore up this hole. Calvi employed some very creative accounting for this purpose.
"When the  Milan Stock Exchange began to fall in 1974, among those to be hurt was Banco Ambrosiano. Calvi was particularly vulnerable. The main ingredient in international banking is confidence. It was known that he was a close associate of Sindona. When Il Crack occurred, the banking world began to take a more cautious view of The Knight. Credit limits to Ambrosiano were cut back. Loans on the international market became difficult to obtain and, most ominous of all, the demand by small investors for the Bank's shares began to diminish, with a consequent drop in the price. Magically, at what was fast becoming the eleventh hour for Ambrosiano, a company called Suprafin SA with a registered office in Milan, entered the market. This finance house began to display supreme confidence in Signor Calvi. It bought shares in his bank daily and before there was time for the name Suprafin to be written on the list of shareholders, the shares were resold to companies in Liechtenstein and Panama. Confidence in Calvi began to return and Suprafin kept on buying. In 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978, throughout all of these years Suprafin continued to display massive faith in the future of Calvi'ss bank – 50 million dollars' worth of faith.
"Suprafin clearly knew something no one else did. Between 1974 and 1978 Ambrosiano shares continued to fall, yet Suprafin acquired over 15 per cent of the bank. Suprafin was officially owned by two Liechtenstein companies, Teclefin and Imparfin. In theory these were technically owned by the Vatican bank. That was the technical theory. In practice Suprafin was owned by Calvi. Consequently, with the complete knowledge of the Vatican bank, he was supporting the market value of Ambrosiano shares by massive purchases – a totally illegal activity. The money to finance the fraud came from international loans made to the Luxembourg subsidiary and from the parent bank in Milan.
"The Vatican Bank received huge annual payments for providing the facilities for The Knight to operate a gigantic international fraud. This money was paid in a variety of ways. All Vatican deposits with Ambrosiano banks received interest payments of at least 1 per cent higher than other depositors. Another method was for Ambrosiano  to buy shares from the Vatican. On paper the Vatican Bank would sell a block of shares to a Panamanian company at a price approaching 50 per cent more than the shares were actually worth. The shares would never leave the Vatican portfolio and the bank that Marcinkus controlled would be millions of dollars better off. The Panamanian company, usually with a capital of only a few thousand dollars, would borrow the millions from Banco Ambrosiano Overseas in Nassau where Marcinkus was a director. The Nassau branch would have been loaned the money initially by the Luxembourg company, who in turn had borrowed the money from international banks.
"Calvi was obviously hoping against hope that the price of Banco Ambrosiano shares would eventually pick up so that he could offload them. By 1978 he was walking on a knife-edge. As if this entire operation was not enough to keep the banker awake at nights, he was also contending with the problems of laundering Mafia money. Allied to that were the constant demands being made by P2 for funds. This involved further embezzlement. He was also suffering from the aftereffects of a blackout campaign by Michele Sindona."
(In God's Name, David Yallop, pgs. 132-134)

These alleged demands P2 were making on Calvi for money during this time were likely linked to some shady dealings the banker was conducting in Madrid. In 1976 Calvi had acquired holdings in the Spanish bank Banco Occidental and took a seat on the board of directors. Another director of Occidental at this time was Pio Cabanillas Gallas, the Venerable Grand Master of P3, a Spanish Masonic lodge linked to P2. As was noted in part two, Spain was a hot bed at this time for militant far right organizations. In addition to the P3 there was also Otto Skorzeny's Paladin Group and the extremely influential Catholic cult Opus Dei. In nearby Portugal there was the Aginter Press terror network fronted by "God's Terrorist" Yves Guerin-Serac. As was noted in the second installment, its likely Aginter Press (sometimes referred to as the Press gang) had ties to the P2 network.

So yes, there was a lot of intrigue in Spain during this time. And with that, back to Calvi's dealings in Madrid:
"Banco Occidental concentrated on developing outlets in Latin America and Florida by acquiring participations in small commercial banks and buying hotels. A member of Occidental's legal department also suspected that Calvi used Banco Occidental as the hinge for arms transactions with Latin American dictatorships. These transactions required Calvi's frequent presence in Madrid. But to stay overnight in the Spanish capital would have attracted attention, so United Trading purchased an executive jet to carry him to and from Madrid in the same day. Instructions were given to Occidental staff never to mention the Learjet when talking on the telephone with the Ambrosiano offices in Milan, suggesting that the staff in Milan was not supposed to know of the aircraft's existence."
(Their Kingdom Come, Robert Hutchison, pg. 266)
Its very likely that arms transactions with brutal Latin American dictatorships were at the heart of the Vatican banking scandal. This angle shall be pursued in the next installment as I breakdown the collapse of Calvi's empire. Stay tuned.