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Cardinal Denies Turncoat’s Account of Money Laundering

November 17, 1994 GMT

ROME (AP) _ The cardinal who runs the Vatican bank denied on Thursday a Mafia turncoat’s allegations that a former bank president, U.S. Archbishop Paul C. Marcinkus, helped mobsters launder $6.5 million.

Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara, of Venezuela, also said the Vatican would fully cooperate in any investigation by Italian prosecutors.

Mobster-turned-state’s evidence Vincenzo Calcara made the allegation this week during a trial in Marsala, Sicily, of a Sicilian politician.

According to Italian newspaper accounts, Calcara told the court that, 13 years ago, Marcinkus met Mafia bosses arriving in Rome on a flight from Sicily and took delivery of a suitcase filled with money. He allegedly took the cash to the Vatican bank for laundering.

Calcara told the court other bishops - whom he didn’t name - showed up with Marcinkus for the purported airport rendezvous.

Marcinkus, 72, originally of Cicero, Ill., was replaced as head of the Vatican bank in 1990 after getting caught up in Italy’s worst postwar banking scandal, the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano.

Prosecutors investigating bank fraud sought to press charges against him, but an Italian court ruled he was outside Italian jurisdiction. Marcinkus, who has denied any wrongdoing, now lives in Arizona.