The managers of the Institute of Religious
Works (IOR) resigned on Monday, three days after the Vatican's bank
was hit by a new scandal.
IOR Director Paolo Cipriani, who had been in his post since 2007, and his deputy, Massimo Tulli, felt that their resignation "would be in the best interest of the Institute and of the Holy See," a Vatican statement said.
President Ernst von Freyberg is to take on Cipriani's responsibilities. Two professional bankers - Rolando Marranci and Antonio Montaresi - were recruited to help him.
The announcement came in the wake of Friday's arrest of Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a high-ranking prelate, who is accused of having paid 400,000 euros (522,000 dollars) to an intelligence officer to illicitly transfer 20 million euros from Switzerland to Italy.
The prelate faced his first interrogation Monday in a prison in Rome. His lawyers insist that he only tried to help a friend and made no personal gains, and asked magistrates to put Scarano under house arrest in a convent.
Scarano is also being investigated for the alleged laundering of over 500,000 euros withdrawn in small quantities from his accounts at the IOR. His activities failed to raise any alarm bells at the bank, despite stepped up vigilance against suspicious transactions.
In its 71-year history, the IOR has been linked to fraud and money laundering several times, and is still under investigation by Italian magistrates. However, it has tried to clean up its act in recent years.
The Vatican bank is expected to be radically overhauled as part of wider institutional reforms Pope Francis is said to be mulling. He has set up two expert committees to scrutinize the IOR's activities and to suggest changes in the Curia, the Church's governing body.
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