Vatican City, 25 May 2012 (AKI/Bloomberg) - The Vatican bank, whose reputation took a blow last year over an investigation into money laundering, has fired Chairman Ettore Gotti Tedeschi after a tenure stained by a financial scandal.
“I would rather say nothing otherwise I would only have ugly words to say,” Tedeschi told reporters in Rome.
The bank, which is formally called the Institute for the Works of Religion, said it’s now hunting for a replacement who can “restore” relations with the financial community. Set up in 1942 by Pope Pius XII to manage the Vatican’s finances, the bank, known by its Italian initials as the IOR, reports directly to the pope.
After barely a year in office, Tedeschi, who also teaches ethics in finance at Milan’s Catholic University, was taken by surprise when Italian prosecutors in 2010 seized 23 million euros (29 million dollars) from a Rome bank account registered to the IOR amid suspicions of money-laundering violations.
He and Director General Paolo Cipriani were placed under investigation for allegedly omitting data in wire transfers from an Italian account. The publication this month of confidential leaked documents in a book titled “Your Holiness” by journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi also painted a poor picture of Tedeschi as the man in charge of the church’s money.
The probe triggered calls to bring the city-state in line with European Union financial rules and become more transparent.
Tedeschi responded by saying the investigation was yet another example of the Catholic Church coming under “fierce attack.” At the time, Pope Benedict XVI was beset by allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests.
The cardinals on the IOR’s governing council are to meet today to decide on the next steps, according to the Vatican statement.
The institute is no stranger to scandal. It was implicated in the fraudulent bankruptcy of Banco Ambrosiano in 1982. The bank’s former Chairman Roberto Calvi, dubbed “God’s banker,” was found hanged under London’s Blackfriars Bridge in June of that year. The Vatican paid 240 million dollars to compensate Ambrosiano’s account holders without admitting any wrongdoing.
And this from September 2010........
Under investigation: Vatican Bank chairman Ettore Gotti Tedeschi is suspected of failing to observe money-laundering laws
A £19million money laundering scandal rocked the Vatican today - just days after Pope Benedict XVI's successful visit to Britain.
Police said the Vatican Bank's chairman Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, who is known to the Pontiff, was under investigation for suspected failure to observe money-laundering laws.
The probe was launched after tax police in Rome were alerted to two suspicious transactions totaling £19million (23million euro).
Officers said another bank official - named by Italian media as director general Paolo Cipriani - was also being investigated.
A statement from the Vatican appeared to confirm this - it said it was 'perplexed' by the investigation but had 'full faith in chairman and director general.'
A statement read: 'The Holy See manifests puzzlement and amazement at the initiative by the Rome prosecutor's office, given that the necessary information is already available at the relevant office of the Bank of Italy, and similar transactions commonly take place with other Italian banks.'
Vatican City has been rocked by the scandal - just days after Pope Benedict XVI's successful visit to Britain
God's Banker Roberto Calvi, 62, was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in June 1982 with $15,000 in banknotes and bricks stuffed into his pockets.
At first his death was treated by City of London police as suicide but Italian counterparts were suspicious and the case was reopened with five people being charged with his murder.
They went on trial in 2007 and among them was jailed Godfather Pippo Calo, already serving life and who gave his evidence via a video link to the court - which was held in a bunker at Rome's top security Rebibbia jail.
The court heard from a series of Mafia supergrasses that Calo ordered Calvi’s murder after he bungled a £150m money-laundering operation.
Calvi had fled to London to try and escape the Mafia but they tracked him down to a flat in Chelsea where he was hiding. He was duped by his killers into thinking they were taking him via the River Thames to a container ship
bound for South America but instead he was murdered.
The five were all cleared of murder at the original trial and a later appeal but a fresh one has been launched by prosecutors in Rome against them and they remain convinced Calvi was murdered.
The £19million was impounded as a precautionary measure.
Rome prosecutors Nello Rossi and Stefano Rocco Fava opened their investigation earlier this year to see whether a 2007 law passed in Italy calling on transparency of accounts had been breached.
Alarm bells rang over two suspicious transactions involving a 20million euro transfer to the German bank J.P.Morgan Frankfurt and three million sent to a central-Italian bank, Banca del Fucino.
Prosecution sources said the investigation was to see if the bank had breached regulations for failing to reveal the identity of the person holding the accounts.
They are trying to discover the beneficiaries of cheques and bank drafts issued from the Vatican Bank accounts and who ordered them.
It is not the first time the bank, known as the Istituto per le Opere Religiose, has been implicated in money laundering - in 1982 it was linked to the £2billion collapse of another bank, Credito Ambrosiano.
Then governor Archbishop Paul Marcinkus escaped investigation by claiming Vatican immunity but in a twist worthy of a Dan Brown blockbuster, Ambrosiano's president Roberto Calvi was found hanging under London's Blackfriars Bridge.
Calvi was known as God's Banker because of his connections to Marcinkus and the Vatican Bank.
His death was initially ruled as suicide but then became murder after further investigation.
He was found with bundles of cash and stones in his pockets. Italian police believe he was killed by the Mafia after a bungled money laundering scam.
American Archbishop Marcinkus died in 2006, taking the secret of what happened in 1982 to the grave and never fully explaining his involvement with Calvi. He famously once said: 'You can't run the Church on Hail Mary's.'
Pope Benedict XVI will be disappointed to see the Catholic Church's reputation sullied after a successful four-day visit to Britain last week
wonder how deep the this investigation will lead ....my guess to all the elite
Just a small point: Calvi was executed under The Black Friar's Bridge. 12 pieces of masonry in his pockets and hanged with a cable tow. The previous year Pope John-Paul was shot by Ali Agca after the Pope refused to admit Freemasons back into the Catholic Church unless they renounced their membership of Freemasonry which was described as, "Subversive of Church and State alike; an organisation in the kingdom of Satan...' As most Judges and many Cops and Lawyers are Freemasons perhaps they would put this on their CVs? Surely an endorsement by the Pope is good as a character witness :o-)
ps: The Black Friars Bridge is guarded by Griffins holding/clutching the Cross of the Knights Templar. On the northside of the Bridge is The Temple (Inns of Court) the Old Bailey Court and the beginning of the Corporation of London's City ( an enclave like Vatican City) which even the Queen of England needs permission to enter on official business.
No what you mean Harry but this Pope just seems so creepy!
One scary dude.
Benny the rat some call him
You have been posting some really wonderful information. Thank you so much.
Keep up the great work my friend.
He's our very own Sherlock Holmes Lynie, ferreting away in the online archives to find the best for OV delictation :-)
A month later and still not in the news.