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Ex-Vatican banker prepared secret dossier-judicial source

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 7 Jun 2012 19:58 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Home, office of ex-Vatican bank head searched this week

* Dossier was prepared by Gotti Tedeschi to defend himself

* Passed on to prosecutors in money laundering case (Adds lawyer's comment)

By Laura Viggiano

NAPLES, Italy, June 7 (Reuters) - Italian police searching the home and office of Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, the former head of the Vatican's bank, have found a confidential dossier relating to his three-year tenure as the bank's president, a judicial source said on Thursday.

The dossier appeared to have been put together by Gotti Tedeschi to defend himself from allegations over his mismanagement of the bank.

Gotti Tedeschi was ousted from his position as head of the Vatican's Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) on May 24 after the bank's board passed a motion of no-confidence, accusing him of neglecting his basic management responsibilities.

The unusually abrupt dismissal, which followed the arrest of the pope's butler for allegedly stealing confidential papal documents, was the culmination of a leaks scandal that has shaken the Vatican since January.

Police searched his home in Piacenza and office in Milan, both in northern Italy, on Tuesday on the orders of Naples prosecutors investigating alleged corruption and bribes by defence group Finmeccanica.

The Naples prosecutors and the Vatican said the Finmeccanica probe, for which Gotti Tedeschi was not placed under investigation, had nothing to do with the Vatican's bank.

The judicial source said the dossier found during the searches had been passed on to prosecutors in Rome investigating separate money-laundering allegations involving the IOR.

The source described Gotti Tedeschi, who was questioned by Naples and Rome magistrates on Wednesday, as "extremely worried". Italian newspapers have said that, following his sacking, he "fears for his life".

Gotti Tedeschi's lawyer, Fabio Palazzo, said police had conficated "notes" that his client believed would be useful to counter the accusations made by the board of the Vatican bank when it voted its no-confidence motion.

Gotti Tedeschi and the IOR director general, Paolo Cipriani, were caught up in an investigation in 2010 when the bank failed to explain the origin of 23 million euros which the Vatican bank transferred between accounts it held in two other banks.

The bank said at the time that it had done nothing wrong and was merely transferring its own money between its own accounts.

Prosecutors initially froze the funds, but later unblocked them.

Gotti Tedeschi told Reuters after his dismissal from IOR that he had paid for his efforts to improve transparency at the bank and make it comply with international anti-money-laundering standards. The Vatican has denied this, saying he was ineffective, divisive and an obstacle to transparency.

Gotti Tedeschi, a 67-year-old conservative Catholic, sits on the board of Italy's state financial holding Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and is chairman of the Italian retail banking operations of Spain's Banco Santander. (Writing by Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Philip Pullella and Robert Woodward)

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