A top Catholic cleric with connections to the Vatican Bank was under arrest last night accused of laundering tens of millions of euro.
Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, 61, is suspected of plotting to help rich friends smuggle huge sums of cash into Italy from Switzerland.
The move comes two days after the Pope set up an inquiry to look into the activities of the troubled bank.
In a scandal that reads like a spy novel, it involves police wiretaps, a private plane rented to collect the cash and burned mobile phones.
An allegedly corrupt secret services agent who promised to get the money past Customs is also being quizzed by police.
The case against Msgr Scarano will come as an acute embarrassment to Pope Francis who has dispensed with many of the trappings of office stressing the importance of a simple life.
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