Thursday, 13 August 2015


"Can Pope Francis clean up God’s bank?

The arrest of a key Vatican banker on charges of money-laundering pushed corruption in the bank to the top of the new pope’s agenda. But his reforms are meeting ferocious resistance

Paul Vallely

Thursday 13 August 2015 06.00 BST

At 6.30 on the morning of 28 June 2013 – just three months into the reign ofPope Francis – officials of the Guardia di Finanza, the Italian law enforcement agency for financial crime, pulled up in front of a rectory in Palidoro, a quiet seaside town west of Rome. When they rang the bell, the cleric who came sleepily to the door was informed that he was under arrest. A few hours later, wearing a well-cut grey suit, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano was shown into a cell in the Regina Coeli, Rome’s most overcrowded prison.

Scarano, a suave, handsome priest known for his extravagant lifestyle (his nickname among other priests was Monsignor Cinquecento, My Lord Five Hundred, because of his habit of carrying only €500 banknotes), was head of accounting at the Amministrazione del Patrimonio della Sede Apostolica (APSA) – the body that then managed the Vatican’s property holdings and controlled its purchasing and personnel departments. His arrest made front-page news. He was accused of trying to smuggle €20m on a private plane across the border from Switzerland in a money-laundering conspiracy involving theVatican bank, an agent of Italy’s secret services and an Italian broker under suspicion for running a Ponzi scheme.
Doubts about Scarano had first been aroused six months earlier, when he had reported a burglary at his apartment in the city of Salerno, south of Naples. Paintings from his art collection had been stolen, he claimed. When the police arrived at the 17-room apartment on Via Romualdo Guarna, in one of the city’s wealthiest neighbourhoods, they were startled by its opulence. It was furnished with valuable antiques, and a spectacular display of art lined the walls in hallways divided by Romanesque columns. Scarano’s collection included a painting attributed to Chagall. Police reports estimated the missing artworks were worth €6m."  Continues.

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