The Vatican is vowing full cooperation with authorities after the arrest of Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, a recently suspended accountant at the Vatican Bank who allegedly attempted to bring 20 million euros ($26 million) into Italy from Switzerland illegally.
According to The Associated Press (AP), the arrest took place just two days after Pope Francis initiated a formal inquiry into the scandal-plagued Vatican Bank to resolve the issues that have brought embarrassment and shame on the Vatican for years.
Msgr. Scarano is accused of fraud, corruption and slander regarding the plot which was unsuccessful, according to attorney Silverio Sica.
As Sica explained to the AP, friends of Scarano asked him to intervene with a broker to return 20 million euros they had given him to invest. Scarano successfully persuaded the broker to return the money. An Italian secret service agent was sent from Italy to Switzerland to bring the cash back via an Italian government aircraft which would prevent any reporting of the money being brought into Italy.
However, the broker then reneged on the deal and the plot fell through.
Scarano, the broker and the agent hired to bring back the money were all arrested.
The monsignor had been serving as director of accounting analysis service of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) until recently.
“As has been made known in the past few days, Msgr. Nunzio Scarano was suspended from his position at the APSA over a month ago, as soon as his superiors were informed that he was under investigation,” said Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi. “This is in compliance of the Regulations of the Roman Curia, which require the precautionary suspension of persons against whom prosecution has been initiated.”
He added: “The Holy See has still not received any request from the competent Italian authorities on the matter, but has confirmed its willingness to cooperate fully.”
Pope Francis has made it clear that he will not tolerate corruption or the use of Vatican positions for personal gain. He wants a “poor” church that is devoted to the needy. He likes to say, tongue in cheek, that “St. Peter didn’t have a bank account.”
As the AP reports, just this week, Francis named five people to a commission of inquiry into the Vatican bank’s activities and legal status. Two of these commissioners are Americans – Monsignor Peter Wells and Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard law professor and former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See who is currently serving as president of a pontifical academy.
Just to be sure that the Vatican bank is operating as he wishes, the pope filled a key vacancy in the bank’s governing structure with a trust prelate to be “his eyes” inside the bank.
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