Just days after Pope Francis established a Commission to investigate the Vatican Bank, a prominent Vatican accountant has been arrested on charges of attempting to smuggle €20 million ($26 million) into Italy from Switzerland.
According to Catholic World News, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, who had served as director of accounting for the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), has been arrested and accused of corruption and fraud. He was already under investigation for suspicion of money-laundering at the Vatican Bank, formally known as the Institute of Religious Works (IOR).
Scarano was one of three men arrested in connection with an alleged plot to smuggle the €20 million into Italy. A financial broker, Giovanni Carenzio, reportedly had arranged to provide the cash, while Giovanni Maria Zito, an Italian secret-service official, allegedly was planning to fly to Switzerland in a private plane with the cash. Scarano reportedly promised to pay Zito €600,000 for transporting the funds.
Scarano, a priest of the Salerno archdiocese, had already been suspended from his APSA position where he ran the office of the Vatican’s financial and real-estate assets when he began being investigated on the money-laundering charges. Following his arrest on the new charges, the Vatican “confirmed its willingness to cooperate fully” with prosecutors in Italy during their investigations. The more recent charge of smuggling cash does not directly involve the Vatican bank.
An Italian attorney alleged that Scarano, who is being held in a prison in Naples, had collected funds from donors who reportedly were led to believe that they were donating to an institution that would be erected to serve the terminally ill in Salerno.
Carenzio is being detained in a jail in Rome, while Zito is in a military prison near Naples.