The Director of the Vatican bank and his deputy resign amidst money laundering allegations

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The scandals continue to swirl at the Holy See as the director of the Vatican bank and his deputy both resigned yesterday. With one monsignor already behind bars and the flood of murky revelations showing no sign of abatement, this latest development will do nothing to ease Pope Francis’ worries.

The Vatican said in a statement that Paolo Cipriani and his deputy, Massimo Tulli, stepped down “in the best interest of the institute and the Holy See.”

Cipriani, along with the bank’s former president , became the focus of an investigation by Roman prosecutors in 2010 for money laundering. The police seized 23 million Euros from a Vatican account but after struggling to find any iron clad evidence, they released the money and the investigation petered out.

And yet the bank, which is laughably named the ‘Institute for Religious Works’, or IOR has remained under the microscope amid allegations of tax evasion and money laundering. After a Vatican accountant was arrested for corruption and slander last week in a plot to smuggle 20 million Euros into Switzerland, the scandal broke afresh. Nunzio Scarano, nicknamed “Don 500″ by the Italian media because of his fondness for 500 Euro notes, seemed to start marching towards a deal with prosecutors shortly after his arrest and wiretapped phone conversation appear to implicate both Cipriani and Tulli. They had to grant him authority to move large sums of cash around Vatican accounts so the assumption that they had either knowledge of his actions or were hoplessly incompetent was unavoidable. Sacarano is also under separate investigation for money laundering in Salerno regarding suspicious activity in a ‘charity’ account.

The five cardinals who are in ultimate charge of the IOR accepted the resignations of Cipriani and Tulli and asked the current president, Ernst von Freyberg, to serve as interim director.

Von Freyberg, thanked Cipriani and Tulli for their ‘service’ and said much progress has been made in recent years to bring greater transparency to the Vatican’s finances with a straight face

“While we are grateful for what has been achieved, it is clear today that we need new leadership to increase the pace of this transformation process,” he said in a statement.

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