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CRIME

Vatican court hands down first-ever money laundering sentence

A Vatican court has sent an Italian businessman to jail for money laundering, in a first for the notoriously secret micro-state.

Vatican court hands down first-ever money laundering sentence
The Vatican. Photo: Flickr/dslr travel

The court ordered Angelo Proietti to be jailed for two and a half years, and seized more than a million euros that he’d deposited in an account at the IOR, or Vatican bank.

The account has been frozen since the case began in 2014.

Proietti, 63, is on trial in Italy for bankruptcy fraud, and was accused of illegally siphoning money from his business to his Vatican account.

He is under house arrest and can appeal the sentence. He won't be serving time in the Vatican itself but in an Italian prison, as the Vatican only has holding cells.

Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

“This is the first time that this crime has been prosecuted in Vatican jurisprudence,” the seat of the Roman Catholic Church said in a statement Thursday about the December 17 sentence.

The IOR has 15,000 clients, most of whom have connections with the Catholic Church, and manages around 5.7 billion euros in assets.

The Vatican's bank made headlines following the 1982 death of Roberto Calvi, known as “God's banker” because of his links to the Holy See, whose corpse was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London.

Prosecutors believe it was a mafia killing linked to money laundering via the bank.

This and other scandals has seemingly prompted a clean-up in recent years, first under Pope Benedict XVI and then under the current pontiff Pope Francis, with about 5,000 bank accounts closed.

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ROME

‘Bank robber’ rescued in Rome after tunnel collapses

Four people were arrested in Rome after a suspected would-be bank robber was rescued from a tunnel under a road, police said on Friday.

'Bank robber' rescued in Rome after tunnel collapses

An Italian man had to be rescued after becoming trapped in a collapsed tunnel near the Vatican, suspected of being part of a gang burrowing its way to a nearby bank.

Firefighters spent eight hours digging him out from under a road in the west of Rome, before he was finally freed on Thursday evening and taken to hospital.

“Two people from Naples were arrested for resisting a public official and two, from Rome, for damage” to public property, a police spokesman told AFP.

The rescued man, one of the two Romans, remains in hospital, he said without giving an update on his condition.

“We are still investigating, we do not exclude that they are thieves, it is one of the theories,” he said.

For Italian newspapers, however, the motive was clear, with reports noting the tunnel was found near a bank ahead of the August 15th long weekend, when residents traditionally head out of town and much of Rome is left empty.

“The hole gang,” headlined newspapers Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, while La Stampa said: “They dig a tunnel to rob a bank, and one of them is buried underground.”

Other reports referred to the suspected burglar as l’uomo-talpa, or ‘mole man’.

An AFP reporter at the scene on Thursday saw the man brought out alive on a stretcher, after a day-long operation involving dozens of emergency service workers using mechanical diggers.

The tunnel began underneath an empty shop that had recently been rented.

“We all thought that the people there were renovating the place. So we had no suspicions and we did not hear noises either,” a resident, Michele, who lives in the same building told AFP.

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