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World Commerce Corporation and Otto Skorzeny, future strategist of Project Lancelot


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World Commerce Corporation and Otto Skorzeny, future strategist for the assassination of President John Kennedy.

" . . .quango, an acronym for ‘quasi-autonomous nongovernmental organization, a term coined in the 1970s inspired by remarks of the president of Carnegie Corporation in 1967 describing “a genus of organization which represents a noteworthy experiment in the art of government.”  

" . . . At first [Gen. Wild Bill] Donovan appears to have played no formal part in the establishment of either BACC or WCC, although his law firm, at that time known as Donovan Leisure Newton Lombard & Irvine, acted as "legal advisers.” (A few amateur historians have written that Allen Dulles’s law firm, Sullivan and Cromwell, served as advisers to BACC and WCC, but we found no hard evidence of that. Additionally, it has been written that Dulles encouraged Donovan to participate in BACC and WCC, but again no hard evidence of that was found.) This leads us to speculate that Donovan may have initially been the “face” of WCC rather than the inspiration as those listed in early documents for WCC include Harry Beaston Lake and W. W. Cumberland, both investment bankers at the firm Ladenburg Thalmann, 25 Broad St. NYC.

In 1879, American banker Ernst Thalmann, teamed up with Adolph Ladenburg, the scion of a German banking family. As confirmed in “History of Ladenburg Thalmann,” by World War II the firm was providing banking services for British Security Coordination (BSC), including acquisition of foreign currency which was required in small denominations by a plethora of British covert wartime agencies as well as escape packs for Allied aircrew. The SOE turned to the BSC, and the close links between the BSC and Donovan's OSS meant that there was continual collaboration between all three entities in support of this task. Harry Lake and Bill Donovan shared an address at the exclusive One Sutton Place for a number of years. It should be noted that Lake was on the board of the American Moroccan Corporation, which will have greater relevance as we pursue the role of Thomas Eli Davis, Jr. in Chapter 5.

In a convenient web of other addresses, Donovan’s law partner, George Stanley Leisure lived at 640-660 Park, sharing a prestigious address with J. Russell Forgan, another founding board member of World Commerce. Leisure was on the board of financial investment giant Empire Trust whose web extends over time to those active on the ground in Dallas that managed the immediate aftermath of the assassination. Forgan’s company, Glore Forgan was heavily invested in J. Peter Grace’s W. R. Grace & Co., a global maritime shipping concern. Grace, the first Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a.k.a. the Knights of Malta, in America, sat on Forgan’s board for decades.

Of note, at the height of the war, the man at the official helm of the SOE, Roundell Palmer, the 3rd Earl of Selborne, was also in charge of economic warfare, placing him in close proximity to decisions involving the services Ladenburg Thalmann provided. Reporting directly to Lord Selborne was Viscount Frederick Leathers, a former Minister of Transport who was placed in charge of war support. For those more familiar with the esotericism that pre-occupied the shadows of power at the time, both in the US and Britain, both men were alleged members of the Prieuré de Sion, a neo-chivalric fraternal order with alleged roots in the Crusades, established legally in 1956 in France. In an instance of continuity, Viscount Leathers later appears in the roster of board members of the World Commerce Corporation.

Brown explains that among those legal advisers [Donovan and Leisure’s firm] was Lt. Col. Otto C. Doering, Donovan’s second in command at the OSS. Donovan only became an official director of WCC in October 1947. At the same time, Edward R. Stettinius, Secretary of State from November 1944 to July 1945, who had substantial holdings in WCC joined the board. According to Brown, in due course a number of other people prominent in intelligence and special operations joined the firm, as directors, officer, or shareholders. They included J. Russell Forgan of the Glore Forgan group of merchant bankers (and future career ambassador David Bruce’s successor as chief of OSS Europe; Lester Armour (former deputy chief mission to Moscow who would inherit the chairmanship of the Swift Armour packing company of Chicago); W.K. Eliscu (a member of Donovan’s OSS staff); Lieutenant Colonel Rex L. Benson (staff member of the British Secret Intelligence Service and chairman of merchant bankers Robert Benson and Company of London. Here it should be noted that Benson was the lead SOE interrogator of Otto Skorzeny after his surrender. Brown adds that the WCC board also included several persons who had been prominent in the Canadian intelligence services.

In addition, Brown tells us that people with intelligence connections, but not formally members of any intelligence service, took an interest in the corporation.They included Nelson Rockefeller (son of John D., and former coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, an organization with intelligence responsibilities and associations in South America); John Jay McCloy (former undersecretary of the War Department and high commissioner in Germany) Richard Mellon (of Gulf Oil corporation); and Sir Victor Sassoon. The list of WCC board members and “interested parties'' reflects America and Britain’s future power brokers that would influence matters on a global scale as the Cold War escalated.

With so many powerful corporate titans interested in the WCC, in hindsight the holding company emerges as a quango, an acronym for ‘quasi-autonomous nongovernmental organization, a term coined in the 1970s inspired by remarks of the president of Carnegie Corporation in 1967 describing “a genus of organization which represents a noteworthy experiment in the art of government.” Were the founders of the WCC following European models established under fascist regimes for the control of and profit from global supply chains and markets, and did that agenda require the services of the sophisticated intelligence apparatus established by Donovan and Stephenson being shuttered by democratically elected government officials after the war? A former employee of WCC recounts, “The idea was to take advantage of the organization and international contacts that were set up during the war… The goal was to set up various companies, mostly in Central and South America.” And as British writer and wartime intelligence officer Roald Dahl argued in support of the creation of WCC, “we all needed jobs in civilian life.”

It is believed that BACC/WCC was initially funded in part with about $10 million that was in the accounts of the OSS London office at the time of Germany’s surrender. Eustice Mullins writes: “This money could not be ‘returned’ to the U.S. Government without stating where it had come from. As proceeds from dealings in gold and jewels, an inquiry could provoke a Congressional investigation.”

Follow the Money and the Arms

About the same time that Donovan and Stephenson began seriously organizing BACC, word began to leak out in certain Washington, D.C. quarters about nefarious activities of certain OSS officials and agents who had been involved in the wartime looting of enormous amounts of gold, gems, diamonds, antiquities and art. Some credible reports centered on what appeared to be a large number of OSS officials who had stolen millions in gold from captured poopoo stockpiles and hidden warehouses. Some prestigious banks in Europe and North Africa were said to have amassed millions of dollars in gold and diamonds. Eventually these reports linked up to post-war accounts concerning former SS officer Otto Skorzeny, and a few of his fellow officers, who had been given substantial amounts of gold, some of which had come from OSS-looted coffers. Substantial amounts of gold also flowed from other sources. There can be little doubt that these rumors either influenced, or made their way into Col. Richard Park’s report. — Coup in Dallas

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