Former Vatican bank head's lawyers threaten to sue to clear name

Fri Mar 28, 2014 2:18pm EDT
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - In a new blow for the troubled Vatican bank, lawyers for its former head who was abruptly fired in 2012 threatened legal action on Friday to clear his name and show that he was unfairly dismissed.

The surprise move by lawyers for Ettore Gotti Tedeschi came after months of relative calm for the Vatican bank under its new president, German Ernst Von Freyberg.

Gotti Tedeschi was ousted after a no confidence vote by its lay board on May 24 at the height of the "Vatileaks" scandal, in which former Pope Benedict's butler leaked the pontiff's personal papers to the media.

The board said Gotti Tedeschi was fired because he was an ineffective and divisive manager. He said he was ousted because he wanted to introduce more transparency to the bank, which has been an embarrassment for the Vatican for decades.

Gotti Tedeschi had been under investigation by Rome magistrates on suspicion of money laundering, but last month a judge ruled that the case against him be shelved.

In a detailed, five-page statement, Gotti Tedeschi's lawyers said the judge's written decision proved that he was a capable manager who acted in the best interests of the bank and encouraged him to take legal action to clear his name.

One of the lawyers, Fabio Marzio Palazzo, told Reuters that Gotti Tedeschi had not yet decided whether to seek financial damages from the board or be satisfied with a judicial sentence clearing his name.

"The important thing is that he be vindicated, but we are still evaluating everything," he said.   Continued...

Head of the Vatican bank Ettore Gotti Tedeschi looks on during Pope Benedict XVI's Wednesday general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican December 21, 2011. REUTERS/Tony Gentile