The Vatican continues to clean up its finances, which so many scandals have historically caused. The court of the small State sentenced this Thursday Angelo Caloia, former president of the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR, the bank of the Holy See), his lawyer, Gabriele Liuzzo, and his son, Lamberto Liuzzo, for the crimes of misappropriation and money laundering.
Caloia, 81, who was in charge of the IOR for 20 years (1989-2009), and Liuzzo, 97, each received 8 years and 11 months in prison, in addition to a fine of 12,500 euros, while that the penalty for the lawyer’s son was 5 years and two months in prison and a fine of 8,000 euros. At the origin of the crime is the fraudulent sale of a large part of the IOR’s assets between 2001 and 2008, which would have caused millions in losses to the bank. For this reason, those convicted must compensate this body and the real estate company Sgir, controlled by the IOR, with 23 million euros, which have already been blocked in their checking accounts.
Despite being a position coveted by finance experts for its influence and visibility, that of president of the IOR is a somewhat cursed position. It should not be forgotten that Caloia’s predecessor was the American Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, known as the ‘banker of God’ for his immense power. Marcinkus was involved in the bankruptcy scandal of Banco Ambrosiano, whose president, Roberto Calvi, was hanged under a London bridge, allegedly assassinated by the mafia.
The trial against Caloia and the Liuzzo, who are disqualified from holding positions in the Vatican, began in May 2018. According to the indictment, the three convicts had appropriated a large part of the IOR’s real estate assets, selling it at a low price to themselves to through an intricate chain of companies, some of them located in tax havens. They did this with most of the bank’s properties, especially the luxury homes located in Rome and Milan.
The collaboration of the Swiss authorities has been decisive in the process, since two of the defendants had deposited the money obtained with their fraudulent operations in banks in that country.