ROME (AP) — Prosecutors have wrapped up their money-laundering investigation into the Vatican bank and are focusing on the institute's two recently resigned managers, Italian news reports said Tuesday in the latest development to shake the Holy See.
Paolo Cipriani and Massimo Tulli stepped down late Monday from the Vatican bank — called Institute for Religious Works, or IOR — amid a criminal investigation into the bank's operations that has resulted in the arrest of a Vatican accountant.
The Vatican said the two resigned to make way for a new leadership to "increase the pace" of efforts to make the Holy See's finances more transparent. That suggests Cipriani, as IOR director, and Tulli, his deputy, hadn't embraced the full scope of reform required to comply with international norms to fight money-laundering and terror financing.
Cipriani was placed under investigation in 2010 for allegedly violating Italy's anti-money laundering laws stemming from a routine transaction involving an IOR account at an Italian bank. The bank's then-president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was placed under investigation as well and Italian police seized the 23 million euros ($30 million) in the account.
Italian news agency LaPresse said Tuesday that prosecutors were expected to exonerate Gotti Tedeschi in the case, since he didn't handle day-to-day bank operations. But, according to LaPresse, prosecutors said they would likely seek indictments for Cipriani and Tulli.
It's not clear what charges they could face since prosecutors in 2011 determined the Vatican had put into place a suitable legal regime to prevent money-laundering and ordered the 23 million euro released. Tulli isn't believed to be under investigation in that case, suggesting that other accusations might be involved.
The Vatican has long denied any wrongdoing and said the 2010 investigation resulted from a mere misunderstanding. Gotti Tedeschi, in the meantime, was ousted as IOR president last May, though the reasons weren't related to the investigation.
Tuesday's developments capped a remarkable week for the IOR: It began with Pope Francis' announcement that he was forming a commission of inquiry into the bank to get to the bottom of the problems that have plagued it for decades.
It peaked Friday with the arrest of Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a Vatican accountant, in a purported plot to smuggle 20 million euros out of Switzerland into Italy. Scarano was already under investigation for using his account at the Vatican bank for alleged money-laundering.
And it continued with Monday's resignation of Cipriani and Tulli from the IOR. Interim managers who belong to the Promontory Group, a leading firm in the fight against money-laundering, were appointed.
Despite the rough week, the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano had some more lighthearted news to offer on Tuesday: Pope Francis' @Pontifex twitter account surpassed 7 million followers, combining the nine languages in which he tweets.
Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield