Vatican Freezes Cleric's Assets in Bank Corruption Investigation

Vatican Freezes Cleric's Assets in Bank Corruption Investigation

The Vatican has announced that it has frozen assets belonging to Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a senior Italian cleric who is suspected of money laundering and corruption. This action is part of an investigation that could extend to other account holders at the Vatican Bank.

Vatican Radio reports that Father Federico Lombardi, Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, said on Friday:

By court order on the 9th of July, the Vatican Promoter of Justice has frozen funds at the IOR [Vatican Bank] attributed to suspended Vatican employee Nunzio Scarano as part of an ongoing investigation by the Vatican judicial authorities.

Lombardi indicated that the Vatican Bank, officially called the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), has hired the Promontory Financial Group to perform “an objective review” of the “facts and circumstances of the accounts in question,” as well as “all client relationships and the anti-money-laundering procedures it has in place.”

Promontory will be a second outside firm brought in to review the Vatican’s finances. Price Waterhouse Coopers audits the Vatican’s books each year.

The reported that the probe into Scarano, a senior accountant for the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, was triggered by “several suspicious transaction reports filed with the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority and it could be extended to additional individuals.”

Scarano allegedly attempted to move 20 million Euros ($26 million) from Switzerland into Italy via the Vatican Bank. He was arrested by the Italian police on June 28th, along with Giovanni Maria Zito, an Italian secret service agent, and Giovanni Carenzio, a financial broker, several days after Pope Francis created a special commission of inquiry into the Vatican Bank’s activities.

Lombardi highlighted a recent statement by the Vatican Bank’s president, Ernst von Freyberg, who said, “The IOR is systematically identifying and will have zero tolerance for any activity, whether conducted by laity or clergy, that is illegal or outside the Statutes of the Institute.”