Monsignor Nunzio Scarano – who is already on trial for allegedly attempting to smuggle 20 million euros (about $26 million) from Switzerland to Italy – was arrested Tuesday for allegedly laundering money, according to a New York Daily News report.
Italian police say Scarano took fictitious “donations” from offshore companies and funneled the proceeds – amounting to millions of euros – through his accounts at the Vatican’s Institute for Religious Works.
Police say Scarano laundered some of the money by withdrawing more than half a million euros from his Vatican account in cash and bringing it into Italy, the Daily News reported. Unable to deposit that amount in a bank without raising suspicion, he got 50 friends to accept 10,000 euros apiece in exchange for a check in the same amount. Thus laundered, the money went to pay off a mortgage on a property in Salerno, Italy.
Scarano’s lawyer, Silverio Sica, said that the monsignor took the allegedly fictitious donations in good faith, believing them to be legitimate donations for the funding of a home for the terminally ill. Sica admitted, however, that his client had used some of the money to pay off the mortgage.
Scarano was an accountant at the Vatican’s main financial office until his arrest on the smuggling charges.
A Vatican official has been accused of using laundered money to pay off a mortgage.