Report reveals shady Vatican bank transfers

Italian police have found 13 suspicious money transfers through the Vatican bank, a newspaper said Tuesday, reporting that a senior cleric arrested last week allegedly offered his own accounts to transfer money for his friends.

Report reveals shady Vatican bank transfers
An investigation into the Vatican bank led to the arrest of Nunzio Scarano, a senior Cathoic cleric. Photo: Guardia di Finanza/AFP

The Corriere della Sera daily said that the suspect operations that triggered money laundering controls totalled more than €1 million and were similar to a larger €23 million transfer that led to an investigation that is shaking up the bank.

It also quoted from documents in the investigation against Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, the senior Vatican accountant held as part of a sweeping probe of the scandal-plagued Vatican bank.

Scarano is suspected of allowing his friends to use his own accounts at the bank, formally known as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR).

"He is a real screen in front of the actual economic beneficiary of the operation and he interrupts the traceability of the money," it said.

He apparently had access to various IOR accounts in Italy and abroad, as well as to deposits of the agency that manages the Vatican's assets (APSA) where he worked, the report said, citing police.

Scarano has been arrested on suspicion of trying to transfer €20 million on behalf of the D'Amico brothers, who own a fleet of oil tankers.

His lawyers say Scarano has rejected the charges.

The paper said that inquiry will likely wrap up within days and prosecutors are expected to apply for charges against the bank's then director general Paolo Cipriani and his deputy Massimo Tulli, who both resigned earlier this week.

What has been hailed as a potential revolution by many religious watchers began with the appointment last month of cleric Battista Mario Salvatore Ricca to oversee the IOR's management — effectively placing one of Francis's trusted allies in a key position to report to him.

Last week, the 76-year-old pontiff followed this by installing a special five-member commission tasked with investigating the bank and reporting their findings directly back to him personally.

The commission's first report is expected in October, and may spark wider reforms of the bank.

The IOR, which does not lend money, handles funds for Vatican departments, Catholic charities and congregations as well as priests and nuns living and working around the world.

It manages assets of around €7 billion.

Rene Bruelhart, director of the Vatican's Financial Intelligence Authority, said in May there had been six reports of suspicious financial activity in the Vatican last year and three requests of information from foreign authorities, although he did not give any details.

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Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome’s Trevi Fountain

With the return of tourism and scorching temperatures, Rome’s fountains are once again attracting visitors hoping to cool off with a midnight swim.

Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome's Trevi Fountain

In the latest incident, a 26-year-old Spanish man was fined 450 euros after taking a dip in the Trevi Fountain in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Rome’s city police apprehended and fined the man after he was spotted swimming in the 18th-century monument at around 5am, according to local media reports.

READ ALSO: How to keep cool like an Ancient Roman in Italy’s summer heat

Every summer, hapless foreign visitors face fines of hundreds of euros after falling foul of Rome’s strict ban on taking a dip in public fountains – with the city mayor warning tourists that the centuries-old Baroque monuments are “not swimming pools”.

In April, two Dutch tourists also faced fines totalling over €1,000 after their own ill-advised splash in the Trevi Fountain.

The Roman landmark is one of the city’s main magnets for badly-behaved visitors, but tourists have also been fined after cooling off in the Santa Maria fountain in Trastevere, believed to be the city’s oldest. 

Since 2018, anyone caught misbehaving at Rome’s monuments can also face a temporary ‘Daspo’ ban from the area – similar to an ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) in the UK – which allows city police to restrict the movement of people they deem a threat to public order.

READ ALSO: From selfie brawls to midnight swims: Tourists behaving badly at the Trevi Fountain

But a plan to erect a one-metre-high glass and steel barrier around the Trevi fountain to protect it from unruly visitors now appears to have been abandoned after arts and heritage experts called the idea “foolish”.

Fines for swimming in the fountains have been in place since 2015, but this hasn’t stopped determined visitors from recreating scenes from La Dolce Vita and even some locals from taking a dip – – with or without their clothes.

Swimming in the wrong place is just one of the offences regularly committed by visitors, with graffiti and vandalism a common problem at many of Italy’s famous monuments.

READ ALSO: 15 strange ways to get into trouble on holiday in Italy

In Rome alone, this year tourists have made headlines for everything from breaking into the Colosseum to enjoy a drink with a view to driving a car down the Spanish Steps.

Other Italian tourism hotspots, including Florence and Venice, also have varying local rules in place aimed at curbing rowdy behaviour.