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More Mons. Scarano property seized

Ex-prelate under house arrest on suspicion of financial crimes

06 February, 17:37
More Mons. Scarano property seized (ANSA) - Salerno, February 6 - Police on Thursday confiscated a further portion of the estate belonging to the disgraced former prelate monsignor Nunzio Scarano, under house arrest in connection with two separate probes into alleged financial crimes.

The latest sequestration - involving two properties in Scarano's home city of Salerno in the southern Campania region, two vehicles and company assets - followed a similar operation on January 21, when the former head of analytic accounts at the Holy See's asset-management agency APSA was also issued an arrest warrant on suspicion of laundering vast sums of money through accounts at the powerful Institute of Religious Works (IOR), the Vatican Bank. The money, much of which investigators say came from offshore companies controlled by rich ship-builder friends, was allegedly used to buy property, set up companies and pay off a mortgage.

Scarano was already under house arrest at the time after being detained in June on suspicion of planning to elude customs with 20 million euros in cash for the D'Amico family.

He has denied charges that he conspired with a former Italian spy and a financial broker in a failed bid to bring the money from Switzerland to Italy.

On January 21 IOR announced it had frozen all accounts linked to Scarano on the orders of a Vatican tribunal last July.

The two probes are 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.

Meanwhile, the bank has made a series of moves to show greater transparency since Argentinian Jesuit bishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis last March, succeeding Benedict XVI, the first pontiff to voluntarily abdicate in 700 years.

Francis is reportedly keen to remove stains from IOR's reputation and get it onto the 'white list' of countries with strong credentials on combatting financial crime.

In December the Council of Europe's Moneyval agency, a monitoring group of financial experts, praised the Vatican's progress, but it also stressed that more work needed to be done.