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January 22 2014

01:36

Vatican prelate accused of money laundering | World news | The Guardian

A Vatican prelate already on trial for an alleged plot to smuggle €20m (£16.5m) into Italy on board a plane faces fresh accusations that he used his accounts at the Vatican bank to launder money.

Prosecutors in the southern Italian city of Salerno said on Tuesday that Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a 61-year-old former accountant in the Vatican’s asset management division, had been served with an arrest warrant on suspicion of using offshore accounts to funnel millions of euros in fake donations through his accounts at the institution.

Scarano, already under house arrest following his high-profile detention last June, was accused alongside another priest and a notary. Police said on Tuesday they had made seizures of assets and property worth millions of euros. Fifty-two others were reportedly being investigated.

The investigation into money-laundering allegations was already under way when Scarano was arrested last year. At that time, he denied the accusations through his lawyer, Silverio Sica, and, on Tuesday, Sica said his client had merely taken donations from people he thought were wanting to fund a home for the terminally ill.

"We continue to strongly maintain the good faith of Don Nunzio Scarano and his absolute certainty that the money came from legitimate donations," he told Associated Press. …

January 19 2014

23:59

Pope Francis shakes up Vatican Bank, sets financial cap for sainthood

Pope Francis on Wednesday (Jan. 15) took his biggest step yet at cleaning house at the scandal-ridden Vatican Bank, replacing most of the institution’s advisers with fresh faces.

Among the new appointees: Vatican Secretary of State and Cardinal-designate Pietro Parolin; Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn from Vienna; Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto; and veteran diplomat Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, a close friend of the pontiff’s.

French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran is the lone cardinal adviser who was retained.

Francis’ move essentially undid a decree issued last year by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who confirmed the Vatican Bank’s supervisory body for another five years, just days before announcing his retirement. The most high-profile figure sacked on Wednesday was Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Benedict’s secretary of state and the face of administrative woes of Benedict’s papacy.

Officially known as the Institute for Religious Works, the Vatican Bank plays an essential role in helping facilitate the Vatican’s role in confronting poverty worldwide. But it has also been connected with widespread corruption and money laundering.

Last July, a priest and Vatican accountant Nunzio Scarano — nicknamed “Monsignor 500&‥8243; because of his taste for 500-euro banknotes — was arrested and accused of smuggling nearly $30 million into Italy from Switzerland. In 2012, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was ousted as bank president after being accused of incompetence.

That same year, U.S. banker JPMorgan closed its accounts with the bank, and Deutsche Bank Italia ended a 15-year relationship, making the Holy See a cash-only state for several months. …

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