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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

Did Permindex Move to South Africa After it was 'Forced' to Leave Italy?

The Palazzo Mostra dell'Arte Moderna during the show-case of the World Trade Center, 1960. In January 1960 the company Permanent Industrial Exhibition (Perm.Ind.Ex) rented the four buildings overlooking Piazza Italia (today Piazza Marconi), by setting up an annual exhibition-market (ASFE42 2218 – Historical Photographic Archive of EUR SpA)

The building of the Mostra dell'Arte Antica during the show-case of the World Trade Center, 1960. In January 1960 the company Permanent Industrial Exhibition (Perm.Ind.Ex) rented the four buildings overlooking Piazza Italia (today Piazza Marconi) , installing an annual exhibition-market (ASFE42 2636 – Historical Photographic Archive of EUR SpA)

According to the conspiracy books, Permindex was forced out of Switzerland and Italy, and it then moved to South Africa. What really happened is that Permindex could not source enough capital to open its world trade center in Basel, and they then moved to Rome, Italy. They opened the Centro Mondiale Commerciale in 1960 but could not find enough tenants to make it successful. The operation was shut down in 1962.

Let's have a look at what the conspiracy books say and examine their sources.

James DiEugenio writes in Destiny Betrayed: (page 386 in the Kindle edition)

In 1967, after Permindex had moved to South Africa, a Garrison informant reported that Regis Kennedy had confirmed that "Shaw was a CIA agent who had done work, of an unspecified nature, over a five-year span in Italy."

There is no source for the claim about South Africa.

Joan Mellen in her book, A Farewell to Justice, writes: (page 139 of the Kindle edition)

In 1962, Centro Mondiale Commerciale was expelled from Italy, ostensibly for financial malfeasance, and specious real estate dealings, but actually for subversion and illegal intelligence activity. "Who was giving money to the CMC and what was it being used for?" Paese Sera demanded. PERMINDEX relocated to a more compatible political venue, apartheid South Africa. Clay Shaw remained on the board, providing space at the Trade Mart for a permanent PERMINDEX display.

Joan Mellen's source on Permindex being expelled from Italy is Paese Sera - a communist-controlled daily in Rome, There is no source for the claim about South Arica.

William Davy in his book, Let Justice Be Done, writes: (page 219 in the Kindle edition)

After five years of controversy, the Italians, like the Swiss, had had enough. CMC/PERMINDEX was forced to relocate again, this time to more accommodating environs in Johannesburg, South Africa.

There is no source for the claim about Permindex being forced to relocate to South Africa.

Paris Flammonde in his book, The Kennedy Conspiracy, writes: (page 219)

Whatever the case may be, the Centro Commerciale and Permindex got into difficulties with the Italian and Swiss governments. They refused to testify to the origins of considerable amounts of money, the sources of which are, to say the least, uncertain, and they never seemed to engage in actual commercial transactions. These companies were expelled from Switzerland and Italy in 1962 and then set up headquarters in Johannesburg.

Flammonde's source for the claim about Johannesburg is the French-Canadian newspaper Le Devoir from Montreal, dated March 16, 1967. Here is what they wrote:

Here is a translation:

In any case, the Centro Commerciale and the Permindex were in trouble with the Italian and Swiss governments. They handled considerable funds whose origin was, to say the least, uncertain, and never carried out real commercial transactions. They were banned from Switzerland and Italy in 1962 and settled in Johannesburg.

Where did Le Devoir get this from?

On March 8, 1967, Le Devoir published an article from Pravda:

Here is a translation of the last paragraph:

In fact, the names "World Trade Center" and "Permidex" [sic] were used to refer to another, much more important organization, the U.S. secret services," said the Pravda correspondent, who noted that the Center "having drawn too much attention to itself" had to be disbanded in 1964, but was later reconstituted under the same name in Johannesburg, South Africa.

This was taken from an article in Pravda, titled "Clay Shaw of the CIA," on March 6, 1967:

The second to last paragraph says:

In 1964, the "centre" in Rome was closed because it attracted too much attention. It was revived, under the same name, in the city of Johannesburg.

The article in Pravda was sourced from Paese Sera which ran a series of articles on Permindex. The first article ran on March 4, 1967, and contained this paragraph:

We know that much of the information in the Paese Sera series of article is just plain not true. Their description of Louis Bloomfield was wrong - Paese Sera said he was a banker, but he was actually a lawyer representing some of the Permindex shareholders, Paese Sera also said he was in the OSS and the CIA which was not true.

Paese Sera also included the false allegation that "Clay Shaw, by his own admission, came to Rome during the time preceding the disbanding of the CMC. According to American sources, Shaw left the U.S. two days after the assassination of Kennedy and came to Europe visiting, among other places, Italy. Shaw's trip lasted about two years, except for a few short visits to the U.S."

But Shaw was never in Rome, and he never attended a board meeting of Permindex/CMC.

The other daily newspapers in Rome were very clear that Permindex/CMC stopped operating because of insolvency. Corriere della Sera said in a March 3, 1967 article that "the center closed in 1962, after it was forced out of the very expensive offices it occupied in Rome because of insolvency." Il Messagerio wrote about their 'eviction' in 1962.

And a Life magazine memo about the Paese Sera series of articles noticed that their front page showed a picture from a 1962 issue about Permindex:

The memo notes that "the CMC had been expelled for not paying the 100 million lire (about 160 thousand dollars) monthly rent."

Here is that front page of Paese Sera for March 4, 1967. You can see in the lower right a photo from the February 16, 1962 issue:

I wish I had a clearer copy of that issue.

Might Paese Sera have decided to exaggerate their earlier usage of the word "expelled"?

And George Mantello never moved away from Rome. Here are a few letters from Louis Bloomfield to George Mantello:

Here is a letter that Louis Bloomfield wrote to Mantello's son, Andrea:

Every single letter from Louis Bloomfield to George Mantello is addressed to Rome. In fact, there are no letters in the Bloomfield archive addressed to South Africa. As a lawyer who represented some of the major shareholders in Permindex/CMC, you'd expect to see some exchange of letters about the supposed relocation of the business.

George Mantello eventually died in Rome. Here is his obituary from the New York Times of May 6, 1992.

So, I have a challenge for believers in a conspiracy: please send me some solid evidence that Permindex relocated to South Africa.

Paese Sera is not a solid source.

Previous Relevant Blog Posts on Permindex

The complete set of State Department documents on Permindex.

Permindex Was Not a CIA Front Chris Peeks interviews me about Permindex.

James DiEugenio Gets it all Wrong on Permindex/CMC Conspiracy theorists mislead people on Permindex/CMC. "Coup in Dallas" - The Story of a Factoid Many books maintain that the President of Permindex, Ferenc Nagy, lived in Dallas in 1963. He actually lived in Herndon, Virginia. Was Permindex Running an Assassination Bureau? Was Montreal lawyer Louis Bloomfield running an assassination bureau? Conspiracy Nonsense Snared a Canadian Louis Bloomfield was a good man who raised a lot of money for Canadian charities. Unfortunately, conspiracy theorists have linked him to the JFK assassination. Clay Shaw's Permindex File Clay Shaw was on the Board of Directors of Permindex. Here is his file. Why Didn't Jim Garrison Go to Montreal? If Jim Garrison wanted to learn more about Louis Bloomfield, all he had to do was pick up the phone or go to Montreal. Exclusive - Louis Bloomfield's Secret Correspondence with George H. W. Bush... Revealed for the first time. Did The Umbrella Man Have Links to Clay Shaw? Yes, a conspiracy book actually makes this claim. Exposed! Louis Bloomfield's Letters to Baron Edmund de Rothschild... Revealed for the first time. Exposed! Bloomfield's Letters about David Rockefeller! They were involved! The Founder of Permindex, George Mantello, Saved Thousands of Jews during the Holocaust... George Mantello was a hero.


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