Vatican employee acquitted of smuggling money

There's one less cloud over the Vatican with the acquittal of a former employee. Keystone

A Vatican prelate dismissed from his post in 2013 has been acquitted of conspiring to smuggle millions of euros in cash into Italy from Switzerland. However, he was found guilty of slander.

This content was published on January 18, 2016 - 18:28 and agencies

Italian magistrates had charged Nunzio Scarano in June 2013 with plotting to smuggle €20 million (CHF21.9 million) into Italy. His alleged conspirators were an Italian secret service agent and a financial broker.

Prosecutors said a private plane had gone to Locarno, Switzerland, in 2012 to pick up the cash and bring it into Italy without undergoing tax and customs controls. The plane returned without the cash because of last-minute complications at the Swiss bank where it was being held, officials said at the time.

Scarano had worked for 22 years as a senior accountant in APSA, a Vatican department that handles real estate and stock investments for the Holy See. He was dismissed from his post after Italian magistrates charged him in June 2013.

Today, the court in Rome found Scarano innocent of corruption and attempted money smuggling but guilty of a separate, lesser charge of making false accusations against one of the other defendants. For that, he received a two-year suspended sentence.

His two accused co-conspirators are being tried separately.

Scarano, who had close connections to the Vatican's scandal-plagued bank, is also still on trial in Salerno, his home town in southern Italy, on separate charges of using that bank to launder millions of euros.

At the time of his arrest in 2013, the bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion, froze more than €2 million that Scarano held in 10 accounts there. He has said his assets stemmed from donations.

APSA is currently under investigation by Vatican magistrates who suspect that it has been used for money laundering, insider trading and market manipulation.

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