The director and deputy director of the Vatican Bank have resigned after a senior Italian priest with close ties to the bank was arrested on suspicion of fraud and corruption.
In a statement issued on Monday, the Vatican announced that the bank’s director, Paolo Cipriani, and his deputy, Massimo Tulli, had stepped down.
On Friday, Italian authorities arrested a senior cleric known as Nunzio Scarano after an investigation of the bank, also known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), produced evidence showing it may have been involved in an international fraud scheme.
Scarano was arrested along with Giovanni Maria Zito, a former Italian intelligence agent, and Giovanni Carinzo, a financial broker.
Prosecutors say Scarano paid Zito 400,000 euros ($523,000) to transport 20 million euros in cash from Switzerland to Italy onboard Zitoâ„¢s private jet.
According to reports, Cipriani and Tulli assisted Scarano and provided him with the required bank approval to transfer the large amounts of cash.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said Scarano was suspended from his accounting post at the Vatican central bankâ„¢s Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) nearly a month ago Å“after his superiors learnt about an investigation into his activities.”
The Italian daily La Repubblica reported that Scarano is also under investigation in the city of Salerno on suspicion of money laundering.
Only priests, religious, Catholic institutions, employees of the Vatican City State, and diplomats accredited to the Holy See are allowed to have accounts at the IOR, but Italian politicians and organized crime figures allegedly also have accounts at the bank.
Over the years, the Vatican Bank has been involved in a series of scandals.
The bank’s governor in the 1980s, Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, was indicted over his involvement with the collapse of Italy’s largest private bank, Banco Ambrosiano, which was owned in part by the Vatican Bank.
In the aftermath of the scandal, the chairman of the bank, Roberto Calvi, was found hanged under Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982. Calvi was known as God’s Banker because of his close ties to the Vatican. The death was initially ruled a suicide but later prosecuted as a murder.
The activities of the infamous P2 Masonic lodge were brought out of the shadows by the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano. Some investigative journalists suspected that some of the plundered funds went to P2 or to its members.
Propaganda Due, or P2, was a Masonic lodge operating under the jurisdiction of the Grand Orient of Italy from 1945 to 1976. P2 was sometimes referred to as a “state within a state” or a “shadow government.”
Republished with permission from:: Press TV