Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Thursday, January 8, 2004day link 

 The Yamashita Treasure
picture Here's an article from Manila Times last month, in part about a book about what happened to the "Yamashita Treasure", a huge amount of gold that the Japanese army had looted and hid in the Philippines during WWII in various hidden places, managed by an elusive network called "Golden Lily", initiated by Emperor Hirohito, apparently.
Some of these repositories have been found. The key figure in their discovery was Severino Garcia Diaz Santa Romana (an alias), who was on the staff of General MacArthur’s chief intelligence officer, General Willoughby. Santa Romana saw a Japanese ship being unloaded and heavy boxes deposited in a tunnel whose entrance was sealed with a dynamite blast.

After the war, Santa Romana and then Captain Edward Lansdale of the OSS (the precursor of the CIA) tortured the driver of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, Japan’s last commander in the Philippines, into revealing some of the Golden Lily sites.

Hand-picked troops of the US Army Corps of Engineers opened about a dozen Golden Lily sites in valleys north of Manila. They found gold ingots “higher than their heads.”

Lansdale reported the find to MacArthur in Tokyo, who ordered him to brief Truman’s security adviser, Clark Clifford.

According to the Seagraves, MacArthur himself and Henry Stimson flew to Manila secretly to inspect the treasure caves. They concluded that the Golden Lily sites in the Philippines contained several billion dollars’ worth of gold.

In order to keep the discoveries secret, MacArthur decided to have Yamashita tried by a court-martial for war crimes and then hanged on February 23, 1946.

Lansdale was put in charge of the recovery of the Golden Lily treasures. The Seagraves aver that Santa Romana was instructed by members of Stimson’s staff to deposit the gold in 176 banks in 42 countries. The deposits were in his name or in one of his many aliases. Negotiable certificates were issued by the banks against the gold deposits.

It was this money, the Seagraves alleged, that the CIA used to buy politicians in Japan, Greece, Italy, the UK and many other countries around the world. It also paid for the secret rearmament of Japan after the outbreak of the Korean War.

In 1974 Santa Romana died. He left a hand-written will that named Tarciana Rodriguez and Luz Rambano, his common-law wife, as his heirs.

With the help of Melvin Belli, a San Francisco lawyer, Rambano filed a suit against John Reed, the CEO of Citibank, for the “wrongful conversion” of some $20 billion of Santa Romana’s gold. The case is still unresolved.

Tarciana is Luz's cousin, and was actually only mentioned for a small amount in Santa Romana's will. But it seems she succeeded in maneuvering things around so that it looked like she was due a lot more. And she's tried a lot of things to get hold of that, without success either.

Anyway, an intriguing and hairy story, obviously. Torturing Yamashita's driver - that wasn't very nice Santa!
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