Vatican ‘Ready to Cooperate’ in Investigation of Accountant

Vatican accountant was arrested June 28 for allegedly trying to move 20 million euros from Switzerland illegally into Italy.

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican said it is ready to collaborate in the investigation of one of its accountants who was arrested today over allegations of corruption and slander.

“The Holy See has not yet received any request from the competent Italian authorities on the matter, but it confirms its willingness to cooperate fully,” said Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Holy See Press Office.

Msgr. Nuncio Scarano was arrested June 28 for allegedly trying to move 20 million euros — $26 million U.S. dollars — from Switzerland illegally into Italy, involving the Vatican's so-called bank, the IOR or Institute for Religious Works.

The arrest happened just days after Pope Francis created a commission of inquiry into the IOR's activities and legal status on June 26.

Msgr. Scarano was arrested along with Giovanni Maria Zito, an Italian secret service agent, and Giovanni Carenzio, a financial broker.

“The competent authorities of the Vatican, the AIF (Financial Information Authority), are overseeing the problem to take, if necessary, appropriate measures within its competence,” said Father Lombardi in a statement released June 28.

The 60-year-old cleric worked as a senior accountant for a Vatican department, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, and had an account at the IOR.

But Msgr. Scarano, now held in a prison in Rome, was suspended from his job a month ago, after transactions of a series of checks described as Church donations were cycled through the Vatican Bank.

Father Lombardi said this happened “as soon as the superiors were informed that he was under investigation.” He explained this was “in accordance with the regulations of the Roman Curia, which requires the precautionary suspension for people for whom prosecution has been initiated.”

The Vatican created the Financial Information Authority in 2010, and it became operational in April 2011 to make the IOR more transparent.

During pre-conclave meetings, discussions included a desire to abolish or reform the IOR.

Pope Francis personally issued a chirograph on June 24, an official document in which he appointed a board of five members to report to him about “the legal position and the activities of the institute” in order to “harmonize the institute with the universal mission of the Apostolic See.”