Vatican City: Monsignor Scarano Corruption Trial Begins

The trial of high-ranking Vatican official Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, accused of attempting to smuggle US$30 million, opened on Tuesday, AFP reports.

The court postponed proceedings until December 13 when the prosecution's first witness will be heard.

Scarano was arrested in June on allegations of fraud and corruption in the midst of a money laundering scandal at the Vatican bank, also referred to as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), alongside former intelligence officer Giovanni Maria Zito and financial broker Giovanni Carinzo.

Scarano is accused of using IOR accounts for illicit transfers on behalf of his friends and associates. He allegedly attempted to smuggle €20 million, about US$30 million, from Switzerland to Italy on behalf of  a wealthy family of ship owners from Naples. According to Italian news agency Adnkronos, Scarano also attempted bribery when the plot failed. His lawyer says that Scarano was only a middleman in a legal money-transferring operation. The prelate has denied any wrongdoing.

As the scandal unfolded at the bank, director Paolo Cipriani and deputy director Massimo Tulli resigned in July, three days after the arrests.

Currently under house arrest, Scarano is also accused of money laundering in a separate investigation. He is known for a lavish lifestyle and nicknamed "Monsignor 500 Euros", allegedly for his habit of flashing large bills, in Italian media.

The IOR manages the Vatican's assets, valued at more than US$9 billion.