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Vatican monsignor re-arrested

A Vatican monsignor already on trial for allegedly plotting to smuggle 20 million euros (£16.5 million) from Switzerland to Italy has been re-arrested for allegedly using his Vatican bank accounts to launder money.

Financial police in the southern city of Salerno said in a statement today that Monsignor Nunzio Scarano's Vatican bank accounts had been used to transfer millions of euros in fictitious donations from offshore companies.

Scarano's lawyer has said his client was merely taking money from donors who thought they were funding a home for the terminally ill.

Scarano is on trial in Rome on the smuggling charges following his July arrest, reduced to house arrest because of his ailing health. In announcing the new detention today Salerno police said millions had also been seized.

AP

Scarano's lawyer, Silverio Sica, told the Associated Press: "We continue to strongly maintain the good faith of Don Nunzio Scarano and his absolute certainty that the money came from legitimate donations.

The Salerno investigation was already under way when Scarano was arrested in Rome in June on separate allegations that he had plotted, along with a financier and carabinieri officer, to secretly transport 20 million euros in a private jet from Switzerland to avoid paying customs duties. Mr Sica has said that in that case Scarano was merely acting as a middleman.

Scarano has been fired from his job as an accountant in the Vatican's main financial office and his accounts at the Vatican bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, were frozen.

His arrest precipitated the resignations of the bank's top two managers and accelerated efforts to make the troubled institute conform to international anti-money-laundering norms.

Mr Sica said the new arrest warrant would also be served under house arrest.

AP

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