A former Vatican accountant is now charged with money laundering and making false statements. Monsignor Nunzio Scarano is accused of using the Vatican bank to launder millions. Former Vatican employee Father Luigi Noli and an unnamed notary were also arrested on the same charge.
The 61-year-old former accountant has remained on house arrest since late last year. He is currently on trial for conspiring to illegally transport 20 million euros from Switzerland to Italy. He and an accomplice reportedly agreed to smuggle the money to several shipbuilders in Salerno.
As the trial continues, authorities looked deeper into Scarano’s financial activities. In an official statement, Italy police said they discovered the former accountant used the Vatican bank, previously known as the Institute for Works of Religion, to launder millions of euros.
As reported by Reuters, Scarano received the funds in the form of “donations” from numerous offshore companies. He then used his personal accounts to launder the money. Officials said they are in the process of freezing and confiscating several accounts and assets as part of the investigation.
As a senior accountant for the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, Scarono had full access to the Vatican bank. He reportedly opened several accounts in his name, which he used to receive and distribute millions of euros.
His life of luxury eventually led to scrutiny of his financial accounts. In 2012, authorities noted a suspicious withdrawal of more than 500,000 euros. They said the accountant distributed the funds among several friends and business associates, who wrote him checks in exchange for the cash. Scarono reportedly used the checks to pay off the mortgage on his 1.7 million euro apartment.
Financial Times reports the investigation was a collaborative effort between the Vatican and Italian authorities, which is rare. Historically, the Holy See was more likely to conduct their investigations internally.
When confronted, the accountant said the checks were simply donations from friends. Scarono said he planned to sell the property and use the profits to build a medical facility for terminally ill patients.
Prior to the accusations, and his subsequent suspension, Scarono worked for the Vatican for 22 years. As senior accountant, he was responsible for the Vatican’s financial holdings, real estate assets, and stock portfolios. He also had authority to make purchases and manage the staff.
Neither the Vatican nor Scarono have commented on the most recent charges or arrest. The former accountant has denied all previous charges of improperly handling funds.
[Image via Wikimedia]