Arrested prelate admits Vatican bank acted improperly
Scarano tells investigators it broke its own rules
- Philip Pullella for Reuters
- Vatican City
- September 17, 2013
The Vatican department in charge of paying salaries and managing real estate acted improperly as a parallel bank, providing accounts to outsiders, an arrested prelate who worked there for 22 years has told Italian prosecutors.
The latest allegations of misdoings come as Pope Francis struggles to tackle years of financial scandals involving the Vatican bank, which has long been in the spotlight for failing to meet international standards against tax evasion and the disguising of illegal sources of income.
The allegations concerning the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, known as APSA, will present another headache for the pope, who has appointed two commissions to advise him on how to clean up Vatican finances.
A key suspect in a widening investigation by Italian magistrates looking into alleged money laundering through the Vatican bank told them that officials at APSA allowed the office to be used by outsiders even though it was against its regulations, according to a transcript of his questioning.
The prelate, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, 61, is under investigation by magistrates in his home city of Salerno, where he is suspected of using his close ties with the Vatican bank to launder money. He is under arrest in a hospital in Salerno.
Scarano's lawyers say he did not launder money.
Scarano was arrested in Rome on June 28 along with an Italian secret service agent and a financial broker in a separate investigation concerning an alleged plot to smuggle 20 million euros ($26 million) into Italy from Switzerland.
Under questioning by Rome magistrates in July, Scarano said some officials at APSA, whose purpose is to pay Vatican salaries, fund its departments and manage its real estate, allowed the department to be used improperly by outsiders.
"As APSA, we were not allowed to have outside clients, but, despite this, in reality, we acted as a bank," Scarano told the magistrates, according to the transcript of the questioning obtained by Reuters.
"We took in money, used it, and paid out interest to depositors," he said.