Vatican City: Monsignor Scarano Arrested for Fraud and Corruption

Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a Vatican official, has been arrested on allegations of fraud and corruption in connection with an ongoing Vatican Bank scandal, BBC News reports.

Scarano, an accountant in the Vatican’s financial department, was recently suspended pending investigation of money laundering accusations against the bank, also known as the Institute of Religious Works (IOR).

 Authorities suspect Scarano brought €20 million in cash to Italy from Switzerland aboard an Italian government plane, according to Huffington Post.

 His attorney, Silverico Silva, claims that Scarano was just the middleman in an operation to return money friends had given broker Giovanni Carenzio to invest. The money was moved on a government aircraft in order to avoid reporting on it entering into Italy. The tactic was discovered when Carenzio did not follow through on his end of the deal.

 An Italian secret service agent, Giovanni Maria Zito, and Carenzio were also arrested, reports BBC.

 This is not the only scandal the Vatican official faces. Italian police began investigating Scarano after a series of suspicious transactions labeled as church donations were recycled through the Vatican Bank. Other transactions he was making in 2009 are also under investigation.  Scarano allegedly took €560,000 out of his personal account at the IOR and took it out of the Vatican in order to pay off the mortgage on his Salerno home, reports Huffington Post.

 Scarano took the money from his account and distributed in €10,000 amounts for friends to hold temporarily in order to hide its intended purpose and to avoid suspicion over having such a large amount. The money in his IOR account initially came from donors who gave it under the pretense that they were funding a home for the terminally ill.

 Scarano continues to claim his innocence despite how the case is unfolding. He said he took the money temporarily for personal use.

 BBC reports that the bank is one of the world’s most secretive: it only has 114 workers and holds €5.4 billion in assets.

 Pope Francis recently ordered a full-fledged investigation into the bank. He created a commission to investigate its legal structure and activities. The investigation into Scarano preceded the Pope’s announcement.