Vatican ‘perplexed and amazed’ as £19million money-laundering scandal is uncovered at its bank
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.’
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.’
Vatican Bank probed for money laundering
ROME – A probe has been opened by Rome magistrates to determine whether the Vatican bank, the Istituto Opere di Religione (IOR), violated Italian laws against money laundering.
The probe is focusing on one or more accounts IOR opened with Unicredit, Italy’s biggest bank, through which some 60 million euros transited over the past three years.
In particular, the investigation will seek to verify whether a 2007 Italian law on transparency in regard to the identity of the account holder or executor was violated.
The possibility that the Vatican accounts violated this law was brought forward by the Bank of Italy special ‘financial intelligence’ unit which passed the information to the Finance Guard which, in turn, forwarded the case to the Rome justice department.
Judicial sources said the probe is currently centered on clarifying the “opaque screen” which hid the identity of the person, persons or organizations that had actual control over the IOR accounts.
Investigators are also trying to discover the beneficiaries of checks and bank drafts issued from the IOR accounts and who ordered them. The accounts were opened at a branch of Unicredit, then Banca di Roma, located on the avenue which leads into St Peter’s Square, via della Conciliazione, in Italian territory.
Thanks to kchiu for the submission.
I usually don’t find her funny, but this was amusing.
Milwaukee Group Seeks Fiery Alternative to Materials Challenge
Life grows more interesting by the day for officials of the West Bend (Wis.) Community Memorial Library. After four months of grappling with an evolving challenge to young-adult materials deemed sexually explicit by area residents Ginny and Jim Maziarka, library trustees voted 9–0 June 2 to maintain the young-adult collection as is “without removing, relocating, labeling, or otherwise restricting access” to any titles. However, board members were made cognizant that same evening that another material challenge waited in the wings: Milwaukee-area citizen Robert C. Braun of the Christian Civil Liberties Union (CCLU) distributed at the meeting copies of a claim for damages he and three other plaintiffs filed April 28 with the city; the complainants seek the right to publicly burn or destroy by another means the library’s copy of Baby Be-Bop. The claim also demands $120,000 in compensatory damages ($30,000 per plaintiff) for being exposed to the book in a library display, and the resignation of West Bend Mayor Kristine Deiss for “allow[ing] this book to be viewed by the public.”
The unanimous vote rejecting the Maziarkas’ challenge came after trustees heard several dozen comments for and against restricting the materials, as well as being presented with opposing petitions: 700 signatures on the petition circulated by West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries, a group formed by the Maziarkas, and more than 1,000 on an anti-restriction petition from the newly formed West Bend Parents for Free Speech. Ironically, four of the trustees were denied reappointment in April as a rebuke from city council members for adhering to the library’s reconsideration process instead of complying immediately with the Maziarkas’ changing reconsideration requests. The trustees are serving until their successors are appointed.
Accusing the board of submitting to the will of the American Library Association and the American Civil Liberties Union, Ginny Maziarka declared, “We vehemently reject their standards and their principles,” and characterized the debate as “a propaganda battle to maintain access to inappropriate material.” She cautioned that her group would let people know that the library was not a safe place unless it segregated and labeled YA titles with explicit content. However, after the meeting board President Barbara Deter emphasized that it was the couple’s “freedom of speech” to challenge any individual library holding, according to the June 3 Greater Milwaukee Today.
For the immediate future, West Bend officials will be dealing with the CCLU’s legal claim. Describing the YA novel by celebrated author Francesca Lia Block as “explicitly vulgar, racial, and anti-Christian,” the complaint by Braun, Joseph Kogelmann, Rev. Cleveland Eden, and Robert Brough explains that “the plaintiffs, all of whom are elderly, claim their mental and emotional well-being was damaged by this book at the library,” specifically because Baby Be-Bop contains the “n” word and derogatory sexual and political epithets that can incite violence and “put one’s life in possible jeopardy, adults and children alike.”
The complaint points out that library Director Michael Tyree has “publicly stated that it is not up to the library to tell the community what is appropriate.” Citing “Wisconsin’s sexual morality law,” the plaintiffs also request West Bend City Attorney Mary Schanning to impanel a grand jury to examine whether the book should be declared obscene and making it available a hate crime.
Confessions of a porn addict pastor
AN AUSTRALIAN pastor who inspired hundreds of thousands of people with his fight against terminal cancer has admitted he faked his illness to hide an addiction to porn.
Police are now investigating disgraced pastor Michael Guglielmucci over the collection of public donations to his cancer cause.
The alarm is understood to have been raised by the Hillsong Church in Sydney which revealed the pastor’s hoax in an email.
His deception was so great his wife quit work to care for him, he forced himseld to vomit regularly at night and even lost his hair to fool his family and the public about the extent of his illness.
Guglielmucci, whose parents established Edge Church International, an Assemblies of God church, had earlier this year released a hit song, The Healer, which debuted at No. 2 on the ARIA charts and was featured on Sydney Hillsong church’s latest album.
It since has become an anthem of faith for believers, many of whom are suffering their own illness and were praying for a miracle for Guglielmucci – more than 300,000 people have watched one performance on YouTube.
In a frank TV interview, Guglielmucci explained fabricating a terminal cancer battle to hide his 16-year obsession with pornography.
This video is too funny. I’ve yet to see a Scientologist that isn’t completely insane or that does very stupid things when confronted.