Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi announced Saturday that three top former officials of the Vatican Bank are being charged with embezzlement and that their bank assets totaling 16 million euros have been seized.
Former Vatican Bank President Angelo Caloia, its former Director General Lelio Scaletti, and bank lawyer Gabriele Liuzzo are being charged in relation to the embezzlement of funds from the sale of 29 buildings to mainly Italian buyers between 2001 and 2008.
“The problem was presented to authorities of the Vatican court after an internal audit was conducted last year,” Father Lombardi said. “The accounts of the interested parties at the bank were seized as a precautionary measure a few weeks ago.”
A separate statement on Saturday from the Vatican bank says that “some months ago the Vatican Bank denounced two former directors and a lawyer, an action that underscores the bank’s commitment to transparency and zero tolerance.” The current director of the bank, papal appointee Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, said that he is “pleased that the Vatican authorities are acting with resolve.”
Caloia, who left the presidency of the Vatican Bank in 2009, is still active in the direction of several other financial institutions, including the Intesa Sanpaolo Bank, Banca Fideuram, and the Banca di Napoli.
In a telephone interview, Attorney Liuzzo called the charges “rubbish,” according to a Reuters report.
On Friday, Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s financial czar, revealed his office had discovered “hundreds of millions of Euros” tucked away in the accounts of various Vatican departments that had never appeared on an overall balance sheet.
Thomas D. Williams can be followed on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.