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Vatican issues warrant for cooperation w/Italy in probe

Holy See asks collaboration from Rome regarding jailed prelate

02 August, 15:53
Vatican issues warrant for cooperation w/Italy in probe (ANSA) - Vatican City, August 2 - The Vatican spokesman on Friday confirmed the Holy See's unusual move of issuing a warrant for cooperation from Italy in a probe into Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, who led a key Vatican accounting unit until shortly before his arrest by Italian police on June 28.

The prelate, who headed analytic accounts at the Vatican's asset-management agency APSA, was jailed along with a former Italian spy and a financial broker for allegedly trying to smuggle 20 million euros into Italy.

All three were recently denied release from jail to house-arrest for showing ''marked criminal behavior'' and ''common ruthlessness'' according to a judicial assessment Wednesday.

Vatican Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told journalists Friday that the Vatican court ''has forwarded, through the usual diplomatic channels, a formal request...for collaboration with the Italian judiciary'' regarding the Vatican's open probe into Scarano.

The Vatican on July 12 said it would from now on show ''zero tolerance'' toward illicit dealings at the troubled Vatican Bank, whether committed by clerics or people outside the Church.

''The Vatican is determined to pursue a zero-tolerance policy on possible financial irregularities, whether by clerics or lay persons,'' Lombardi said at the time, citing a recent statement from the new head of the Vatican Bank, Ernst von Freyberg, who replaced Paolo Cipriani when he and deputy director Massimo Tulli resigned on July 2 following Scarano's arrest. The Vatican justice representative appealing to Italian authorities, Giampiero Milone, also ordered Scarano's accounts last month to be frozen at the Vatican Bank, whose official name is the Institute for Religious Works(IOR). Scarano was suspended from his duties at APSA nearly a month prior to his arrest, when police started sifting through his assets because of his suspiciously large financial holdings and artistic trove.

Scarano was arrested along with Giovanni Maria Zito, an agent in the AISI intelligence agency, and Rome broker Giovanni Carenzio.

Police said Scarano and Zito got a private jet to fly back from Switzerland to Italy 20 million euros in cash for a family who were friends with the prelate.

Zito is suspected of getting 400,000 euros for arranging cover for the flight.

Scarano has been named in a separate probe into receiving money in Salerno near Naples.

The Vatican has said it would cooperate ''fully'' with the Scarano probe, which gained headlines worldwide and was seen as a fresh blot on the reputation of the troubled IOR.

The Scarano probe is part of a wider investigation into alleged shady transactions at IOR, in which former president Ettore Gotti Tedeschi and his former No.2 were placed under investigation in connection with suspected money laundering.

Gotti Tedeschi was cleared but his No.2 and another official were charged in the case.

During his flight from Rio De Janeiro to Rome on Monday, Pope Francis commented on the Scarano case to journalists.

''We have this monsignor who went to jail. Do you think he went to jail because he resembled the blessed Imelda? It is a scandal, a thing that hurts,'' the pope said.