Vatican Finance Official Convicted

News: World News
by David Nussman  •  •  February 15, 2019   

After 2016 conviction for defamation, Msgr. Nunzio Scarano convicted by appeals court for corruption

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ROME ( - A former Vatican financial official is facing three years in Italian prison for corruption and defamation.

Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, former accountant in the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), was arrested in June 2013 in connection to an alleged plot to smuggle millions of euros in cash, untaxed, from Switzerland to Italy in an airplane.

Apparently, Msgr. Scarano was arrested again in January 2014 for other charges of corruption, related to using his Vatican bank account to launder money through sham donation checks.

Scarano was found innocent of the corruption charges in 2016, but was found guilty of defamation for lying about one of his two fellow defendants. Scarano had written co-defendant Giovanni Zito a check for 200,000 euros, then reported the check missing so Zito couldn't cash it.

But now, after two years in prison for defamation, the former Vatican official has been found guilty in an appeals court in Rome of both corruption and defamation. This is according to a Wednesday report from Italian news organization ANSA. ANSA also reports that Msgr. Scarano is being sentenced to three years in prison.

Scarano, Zito and one other man were involved in a plan that involved leasing a plane and carrying 20 million euros in cash from Switzerland to Italy.

Monsignor Scarano worked at APSA for 22 years. At the time, it handled the Vatican's real estate holding and investment portfolio.

After Scarano's 2013 arrest, two Vatican Bank officials — Director Paolo Cipriani and Deputy Director Massimo Tulli — resigned from their posts.

The monsignor appears to have lived a luxurious lifestyle. According to reports, Msgr. Scarano was sometimes known as "Monsignor 500" due to a habit of carrying around 500-euro bills in his pockets.

Back in 2013, Msgr. Scarano's lawyer said that legal technicalities would prevent his client from being found guilty, adding that the monsignor took part in the scheme to pay back "friends."

In reporting on Scarano's 2013 arrest and subsequent legal battle, some news outlets have mentioned the history of scandals at the Vatican Bank.

The Vatican Bank, known technically as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), was enmeshed in scandal in 1982 in connection with the collapse of Italian bank Banco Ambrosiano — which allegedly was used by the mafia to launder heroin money. After the bank collapsed, Roberto Calvi, the chairman of the bank, was found dead, hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London.

In reference to the IOR's history of mismanagement, Financial Times Magazine had a 2013 headline reading, "[H]ow Vatican bank became a financial penitent."

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