Arrested Vatican prelate lived lush life in hometown

Thu Jul 4, 2013 6:36am EDT
 
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By Philip Pullella

SALERNO, Italy (Reuters) - Even though he was known to like to live well, police said they were startled when they entered Monsignor Nunzio Scarano's apartment after he called them one night in January to report a burglary.

The apartment, in one of Salerno's most up-market neighborhoods in the city center, was huge, with art lining the walls and hallways divided by Roman-style columns.

Scarano, a Vatican official with close ties to the Vatican bank and who is now in Rome's Queen of Heaven jail, had called police to report that thieves had stolen part of his art collection.

Interviews with two key chief investigators in different judicial and police departments in Salerno, in southern Italy, and police pictures of the apartment viewed by Reuters give the most detailed picture to date of Scarano's wealth.

The investigators disclosed that the trove of stolen goods estimated to be worth up to 6 million euro ($7.82 million) included six works by Giorgio de Chirico, one by Renato Guttuso, one attributed to Marc Chagall and pieces of religious art.

"We asked ourselves how did this monsignor come to own this place and possess these expensive works of art," said a senior investigator in the southern Italian city who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

"He said they were all donations. It is a luxury apartment and we asked ourselves how he could have bought it and where the money came from," he said. Magistrates suspect at least some of it may have come from illegal activity in the Salerno area.

Through his lawyer, Silverio Sica, Scarano said that the art work, the apartment and money in his bank accounts, including two at the Vatican bank, all came from donations and that he had done nothing wrong.   Continued...

 
President of the Vatican bank Ernst von Freyberg listens to a question during an interview with Reuters in his office at the Vatican June 10, 2013. REUTERS/Tony Gentile