Ex-head of Vatican bank guilty of embezzlement and money laundering

A court found Angelo Caloia, former head of the Vatican bank, guilty of embezzlement and money laundering. He became the highest-ranking Vatican official convicted of a financial crime. Reuters reports.

Caloia, 81, was president of the bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), between 1999 and 2009.

The Vatican court also convicted two Italian lawyers, 97-year-old Gabriele Liuzzo and his son, 55-year-old Lamberto Liuzzo, who were consultants to the bank.

The three were charged with participating in a scheme in which they embezzled money while managing the sale of buildings in Italy owned by the bank and its real estate division between 2002-2007.

According to the investigation, the convicts were able to steal 57 million euros. They received cash from the difference between the actual sales prices and the amount recorded on the books separately. Some of the proceeds were deposited in a bank account in Rome that was not related to the IOR.

Caloia and Gabriele Luzzo were sentenced to eight years and eleven months, and Lamberto Luzzo to five years and two months in prison.

During the trial, which began in 2018, the convicts denied any wrongdoing. The defense side intends to file an appeal.

A fourth defendant, former IOR director general Lelio Scaletti, died several years ago.

The court ordered the sequestering of about 38 million euros in defendants’ bank accounts that were frozen and a payment of more than 20 million euros in damages to the IOR.

The investigation into the scam was begun in 2013 by then IOR President Ernst von Freiberg after he noticed suspicious accounting procedures under previous administrations.