Arrested Vatican monsignor felt he could act with impunity-judge


Sun Jun 30, 2013

* Scarano had vast amounts of money at disposal -judicial document
* Prelate had close connections to Vatican bank
* Poses first big headache for Pope Francis
* Francis has promised transparency, set up bank inquiry

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY, June 30 (Reuters) – A senior Catholic cleric arrested in a plot to smuggle tens of millions of dollars into Italy controlled vast amounts of money and felt he could act with impunity because of his connections to the Vatican bank, according to a judge’s investigative document.

In the latest blow to the Vatican’s image, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, 61, was arrested on Friday along with an Italian secret service agent and a financial broker.

The three had plotted to smuggle 20 million euros ($26 million) into Italy from Switzerland for members of a family of ship-owners in southern Italy, an investigating magistrate told reporters on Friday.

The magistrate said the pivotal protagonist was Scarano, who worked until recently as a senior accountant in the Vatican’s financial administration, and that he owned numerous pieces of property and had accounts in the Vatican bank.

A 48-page document in which Judge Barbara Callari approves magistrates’ requests for the arrests, and which was obtained by Reuters, contains transcripts or summaries of wiretaps, emails, letters, cheques and other results of police investigations.

It describes the development of a plot that reads like a spy novel, involving a private plane that was to collect the cash in Switzerland, burned cell phones, a shady financier and an allegedly corrupt secret service agent who promised to slip the money past customs.

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