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A member of Italy’s secret services, a financial broker and a cleric were all detained on Friday.
The cleric, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, worked as an accountant in the Vatican’s financial administration. He was suspended from duties several weeks ago after being placed under investigation by magistrates.
Scarano is accused of taking 600,000 euros out of a Vatican Bank account. He is said to have taken out small amounts at a time and given them to friends who in turn wrote him cheques. The money was apparently used to pay off a mortgage.
The Monsignor’s lawyer Silverio Sica said he was additionally accused of being involved in an attempt to help friends bring 20 million euros into Italy from Switzerland by plane in league with the secret service agent and the financial intermediary.
The arrests came in the same week that Pope Francis announced he had set up a commission of inquiry into the troubled bank which has been hit by a number of scandals in the past decades.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement Vatican authorities stood ready to cooperate with the
Italian investigation, but had so far received no official request.
He said the AIF, the Vatican’s own financial authority, was following the case and would take action if necessary.