- Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, the bishop of Salerno, taken into custody
- He is the chief accountant for the Vatican’s vast property portfolio
- He was known among Vatican circles as ‘Don 500 Euros’
- Italian secret agent Mario Zito and broker Giovanni Carenzio also arrested
- By Hannah Roberts In Rome
One of the Vatican’s most senior money-men has been arrested in an alleged plot to smuggle 20 million Euros into Italy on a government plane.
Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, the bishop of Salerno, and the chief accountant for the Vatican’s vast property portfolio, has been taken into custody along with an Italian secret agent Mario Zito and broker Giovanni Carenzio.
Scarano, 61, who worked at Deutsche bank before taking ecclesiastical vows, is accused of fraud, corruption, and other charges, as part of a wider investigation into the IOR Vatican Bank.
Arrest: Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, the bishop of Salerno, the chief accountant for the Vatican’s vast property portfolio, has been taken into custody
His nickname in Vatican circles was reportedly ‘Don 500 Euros’ thanks to his habit of showing people that he had only the largest bank note in his wallet.
The high profile arrests come just 48 hours after Pope Francis announced the line up for his commission into the Vatican Bank.
The so-called ‘Bank of God ‘ has been tarnished by scandal and suspicion for 30 years.
Any attempt to investigate by Italian authorities was viewed as an attack on the sovereignty of the Vatican state .
Vatican City at dusk: Francis, who has made clear he wants a ‘poor’ church, has already named a separate commission of cardinals to advise him on the broader question of reforming the Vatican bureaucracy as a whole
Francis said he needed to ensure the bank was running ‘in harmony’ with the church. According to a writ no one is allowed to refuse the commissioners information.
The high ranking priest had attempted to intervene with Carenzio, a wealthy broker, to return 20 million Euros friends of his had given him to invest, Scarano’s lawyer said.
The Monsignor persuaded Carenzio to return the money, and an Italian secret service agent, Mario Zito, went to Switzerland to bring it back aboard an Italian government aircraft for which he was to be paid 400,000 Euro.
The plot failed because Carenzio reneged on the deal, the lawyer said.
Scarano is also under investigation for money laundering Euro 500,000 in his diocese, Salerno, in Italy’s deep south.