Vatican bank director, deputy resign amid scandal

2/7/13; AP

The director of the embattled Vatican bank and his deputy have resigned following the latest developments in a broadening finance scandal that has already landed one Vatican monsignor in prison and added urgency to Pope Francis’ reform efforts. The Vatican said in a statement that Paolo Cipriani and his deputy, Massimo Tulli, stepped down “in the best interest of the institute and the Holy See”. Cipriani, along with the bank’s then-president, was placed under investigation by Rome prosecutors in 2010 for alleged violations of Italy’s anti-money-laundering norms after financial police seized €23 million from a Vatican account at a Rome bank. Neither has been charged and the money was eventually ordered released.
But the bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, or IOR, has remained under the glare of prosecutors and now Francis amid fresh concerns it has been used as an offshore tax haven. Last week, a Vatican accountant was arrested as part of Rome prosecutors’ broadening investigation into the IOR. Monsignor Nunzio Scarano is accused of corruption and slander in connection with a plot to smuggle €20 million into Italy from Switzerland without reporting it to customs officials.
Scarano, dubbed “Don 500″ by the Italian media because of his purported favourite euro banknote, acknowledged under questioning Monday that his behaviour was wrong but that he was only trying to help out friends, attorney Silverio Sica told The Associated Press.
According to wiretapped phone conversations, Scarano was in touch regularly with both Cipriani and Tulli to get the required bank approval to move large amounts of cash into and out of his IOR accounts. Scarano had two such accounts: a personal one and one called “Fondo Anziani” to receive charitable donations for projects to help the elderly, prosecutors say…
Italian banker Rolando Marranci was named as acting deputy and another banking expert, Antonio Montaresi, has been brought into a new position as chief risk officer to help ensure the IOR complies with anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism norms. Both belong to the Promontory Group, an expert in the field of anti-money laundering which has been retained by the IOR to help it comply with international norms…
Last week, Francis announced a commission of inquiry into the bank’s activities and legal status to ensure it is in “harmony” with the Catholic Church’s mission. It’s part of his overall reform effort of the Vatican bureaucracy, mandated by the cardinals who elected him pope in March…

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