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Vatican Monsignor Arrested for Money Laundering
Posted By: Jordon [Send E-Mail]
Date: Tuesday, 21-Jan-2014 13:32:16 .
A former Vatican prelate on trial for an alleged plot to smuggle 20 million euros into Italy was further charged on Tuesday with laundering millions through the Vatican bank, police said.
Monsignor Nunzio Scarano and two other people served with arrest warrants were suspected of money laundering and making false statements, police said. The others were Father Luigi Noli, a friend of Scarano suspended from his Vatican job last year, and a notary. Fifty-two others were being investigated.
While the charges had been expected, they were another blow to the image of the Vatican, where Pope Francis has vowed to make Church finances meet global standards of transparency. He has not ruled out closing the bank if it cannot be reformed.
Scarano, 61, is under house arrest in his native Salerno, near Naples, and on trial in Rome for conspiring to smuggle some 20 million euros from Switzerland with a financier and a former secret services officer for rich shipbuilder friends in Salerno.
The new charge, which came after a separate, year-long investigation, concerns suspected money laundering through his accounts at the Vatican bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR). A police statement said millions of euros in "false donations" from offshore companies moved through Scarano's accounts there.
Police did not say exactly how much laundered money had moved through the IOR but said Scarano had about 5 million euros at his disposal in accounts at the Vatican and in Italian banks.
As part of their investigation, police froze two accounts in an Italian bank just outside the Vatican, one for a real estate company he controlled. They also seized two apartments, for a total of about 6.5 million euros in financial and real estate assets.
Last July, the Vatican bank froze more than 2 million euros in about 10 accounts Scarano kept there.
Elena Guarino, the Salerno magistrate who led the investigation, told reporters the Vatican was fully cooperative and gave her much information on Scarano's bank movements.