Italian monetary authorities said Tuesday that they had impounded $30 million from the Vatican bank and placed its top two officers under investigation in connection with a money-laundering inquiry. The announcement amounted to another potential storm confronting the papacy of Benedict XVI, who is struggling with the effects of a priestly abuse scandal.
In a statement, the Vatican expressed "perplexity and surprise" that the bank's chairman, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, and its director general, Paolo Cipriani, had been placed under investigation. It added that it had the "greatest trust" in the two men and that it had been working for greater transparency in its finances, Rachel Donadio reports in The New York Times.
The investigation is the first into the Vatican bank since the early 1980s, when it was implicated in the collapse of an Italian bank whose chairman, nicknamed "God's banker," was mysteriously found dead, hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London. …
What is Money-Laundering?
Money laundering, at its simplest, is the act of making money that comes from Source A look like it comes from Source B. In practice, criminals are trying to disguise the origins of money obtained through illegal activities so it looks like it was obtained from legal sources. Otherwise, they can’t use the money because it would connect them to the criminal activity, and law-enforcement officials would seize it. – hsw