Vatican Bank facing money laundering probe

Italian authorities seized $30 million from a Vatican bank account Tuesday and said they have begun investigating top officials of the Vatican bank in connection with a money-laundering probe.

The Vatican said it was “perplexed and surprised” by the investigation.

This isn’t the first time. The Vatican Bank scandal of the 1980’s resulted in at least one mysterious death after it was linked as an accessory to the collapse of a $3.5 billion bank with shady ties. The story was fictionalized in Godfather III.

It is a story of corruption in all sectors of society, including the Catholic Church, and the Godfather’s realization that “the higher I go, the crookeder it becomes.”


In 1968 Vatican authorities hired Michele Sindona as a financial advisor, despite Sindona’s questionable past. It was Sindona who was chiefly responsible for the massive influx of money when he began laundering the Gambino crime family’s heroin money (taking a 50% cut) through a shell corporation “Mabusi”. This laundering was accomplished with the help of another banker, Roberto Calvi, who managed the Banco Ambrosiano

I’d call that hyperbole except that I’ve read Nick Tosches’ Power on Earth, a superb book on Sindona.

From a 1985 interview with Tosches.

In 1974, Sindona’s empire began to collapse. He first came to public attention as mastermind of the Franklin National Bank failure, the largest collapse in national history. Just four years into serving a 25-year sentence for those crimes, Sindona became a central character in the Vatican Bank scandal. Last September, he was extradited to Milan, Italy in a unique legislative deal to face charges of bank fraud and instigating murder, both relative to the loss of millions to the vatican. Now 65, Sindona is in prison and still on trial.

Sindona was murdered in prison with cyanide-laden coffee. His last words were “They have poisoned me.”

It doesn’t appear that the Vatican bank has changed much since the 1980’s.