From email@example.com Wed May
4 21:30:11 2005
Subject: AANEWS for Wednesday, May 4, 2005—Night Owl Edition
Date: Wed, 4 May 2005 21:18:06 -0400
In the latest chapter of a decades-old scandal, four people have been indicted in connection with the 1982 murder of Roberto Calvi, a powerful international financier and the man dubbed “God's banker” for his close ties to the Vatican.
Calvi was found hanging beneath Blackfriar's Bridge in London on June 18, 1982. His body was weighed down with 14 pounds of bricks and mortar, and he had $15,000 worth of currency stuffed in his pocket. Although his hands were secured behind his back, the incident was promptly ruled a suicide and the matter mysteriously dropped.
Calvi had been on the run using a false passport and numerous aliases following the collapse of his Banco Ambrosiano, a financial institution that partnered and laundered money for the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), the Holy See's bank headed by Archbishop Paul Marcinkus.
All told, nearly $1.4 billion disappeared from the accounts of Banco Ambrosiano, including several hundred million dollars in loans and other financial instruments guaranteed by the IOR, and funneled through a complex network of dummy corporations and off-shore tax havens. Part of the money was diverted to the Solidarity Trade Union in Poland, while other funds subsidized the activities of fascist movements throughout Latin America, and a “shadow government” operating within a renegade Masonic lodge known as P-2 or “Propaganda Due.”
Named in the indictment are Flavio Carboni, his ex-girlfriend Manuela Kleinzig, and mobsters Pippo Calo and Ernesto Diotallevi. A trial is set for October.
Two years ago, partly in response to pressure from Calvi's family Italian prosecutors issued a report saying that the influential banker did not commit suicide. British authorities reopened their investigation as well.
Several theories have emerged to explain the bizarre series of events which began with the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, and revelations that the IOR had guaranteed hundreds of millions of dollars in questionable loans and money transfers. Calvi's son, also named Roberto, told an Italian newspaper that while he believes organized crime members carried out the execution of his father, “someone else” was behind the murder. BBC notes that, “In recent years more evidence has come to light, suggesting Calvi was murdered by the mafia to stop him divulging damaging details about links between the mafia, the Vatican and P2.”
His death, observed BBC reporter Chris Summers, took place when Italian business and politics operated in an environment of “smoke and mirrors,” where nothing was quite what it appeared to be.
The Vatican moved quickly to block any investigation of the Banco Ambrosiano fraud, citing diplomatic immunity and its status as a sovereign nation-state under a Concordant established by the regime of dictator Benito Mussolini. (Mussolini's government had also “initialized” the IOR with a sizeable contribution of funds quickly making the Holy See a major player in Italian finance and a lucrative partner in off-shore tax frauds and other scams.) Archbishop Marcinkus, head of the IOR at the time of Calvi's disappearance, avoided arrested by Italian authorities while living within the extraterritorial boundaries of Vatican City. Indeed, Calvi told attorneys “If the whole thing comes apart, it will be enough to start the Third World War.”
The unsavory alliance of mobsters, ambitious politicians and greedy Vatican officials depended on large part on the Holy See's secretive financial network, its huge holdings within major Italian corporations and the Vatican's status as an independent nation-state beyond the purview of Italian officials. Calvi was aware of much of the operation, and accumulated a series of documents and other material as “insurance.” In 1988, some of the papers surfaced when police raided the headquarters of a drug gang. Among the evidence were letters addressed to high officials in the Vatican Curia, including the Holy See's Secretary of State Cardinal Agostino Casaroli. Two of the letters referred to the transfer of 1.5 billion lire (approximately $1 million) to cover funds advanced to Flavio Carboni to acquire documents written by Calvi. The Vatican ended up paying Carboni nearly $2 million (”All of it Vatican money” according to Carboni)for those documents, and according to investigators may have released another $40 for other Calvi documents.
There are other aspects of the Calvi murder that have relevance today, more than two decades after the disgraced banker's corpse was found dangling beneath Blackfriar's Bridge in the City of London:
This sovereign status has allowed the Vatican to resist scrutiny in a myriad of investigations, including the one into the collapse. A ruling by a U.S. court last month, however, in another case related to the Vatican bank, may indicate that the wall of secrecy surrounding the Holy See's financial intrigues may be pierced in some instances. On April 18, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (frequently the target of charges of so-called “judicial activism”) ruled that a lawsuit over restitution from the Second World War could proceed. The case involves charges that property expropriated from Serbs, Jews and Russians looted by the Nazi-controlled Croatian government (at the time a self-proclaimed “Catholic State”) was sequestered and “laundered’ by the Vatican.
Fearing that the suit was gaining momentum, the Holy See had asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to intervene on behalf of the Vatican. According to attorneys Jonathan Levy and Tom Easton, the amount at issue could be more than $100 million. The case is ALPERIN v. VATICAN BANK.
On the other side of the globe, the new revelations in the murder of Roberto Calvi are refocusing attention on the role of the Vatican and its ties to covert fascist groups, intelligence services, mobsters and greedy, ambitious politicians. Time is running out, though, for the full story to be told about the Calvi incident and the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano. Archbishop Paul Marcinkus is 81-years old, and assigned to a church in Phoenix, AZ. He still enjoys the benefits of a Papal Passport and diplomatic immunity. It is also doubtful that the new pope, dubbed Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger, is eager to clean house at the Vatican. Indeed, he has maintained most of the old bureaucracy that operated the Holy See under the regime of Pope John Paul II, who covered up everything from sex scandals to the full story behind the papacy's complicity in events dating back to World War II. Unraveling the machinations of the Vatican Bank is proving to be a slow, tedious process. For those seeking justice and a full accounting of one of the biggest financial scandals in recent history, revelations about the murder of Roberto Calvi provide, at least, another step forward.
For further information:
(ALPERIN v. VATICAN BANK)
(”Through the Looking Glass: Vatican Politics, the Calvi Murder and Beyond,” talk by Conrad Goeringer at 1999 pope protest, St. Louis, MO.)
(”Gelli arrest is another chapter in the sordid Vatican bank scandal,” 9/16/99—background on P-2 and Licio Gelli, the “Puppetmaster”)
(”Report on Calvi autopsy returns spotlight to Vatican bank scandal,” 10/29/02)
(”Vatican asks court, US government to dismiss lawsuit over Nazi gold,” 11/28/00—background on ALPERIN v. VATICAN)