High-ranking Vatican priest accused of corruption

Remember Calvi and the Godfather?

Winds of Change

There’s an air of something strange
sweeping through the Vatican.
Guided by Pope Francis’s hand,
do we see the winds of change?
Fraud suspected, who’s the man?
A new commission views the bank;
they’re not there to draw a blank –
Scarano charged for the scam he ran.
The new pope is the one to thank,
he vowed to shake corruption out.
St Francis had no bank account;
humility his steadfast plank.
Poverty was Francis’s creed,
helping those most in need.

29th June 2013 – headline from the Independent

Notes:  “Vatican bank arrests mark new hard line.”  Just two days after Pope Francis set up a commission to investigate the Vatican bank (IOR) a high-ranking priest who worked for it, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, was arrested in Rome along with two other men and accused of corruption.  He had already been suspended on suspicion of involvement in money laundering. In the new case, it is alleged that the three men tried to smuggle €20m into Italy from Switzerland, presumably to avoid paying Italian duty on it.  The priest is known to his friends as “Monsignor 500” because of the number of €500 bills he carries around. In the earlier case, which is still under investigation, he is said to have withdrawn €560,000 from his IOR account to pay off a mortgage on his home in Salerno.  The money consisted of donations by churchgoers who believed it was going towards building a home for the terminally ill which remains unbuilt.  Pope Francis had already signalled his unhappiness at the links between high finance and the church; getting to grips with decay and corruption inside the Vatican is at the heart of the Pope’s mandate.  The setting up of the commission is among the first signs of where the Argentine pope intends to take the vast organisation he heads. In holding the bank up to scrutiny, he is doubtless aware of the size of the challenge that he has taken on.  The commission to investigate the bank is the first sign that Pope Francis means business.

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