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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Italian authorities seized $30 million from a Vatican bank account Tuesday and said they have begun investigating top officials of the Vatican bank in connection with a money-laundering probe.
The Vatican said it was “perplexed and surprised” by the investigation.
Italian financial police seized the money as a precaution and prosecutors placed the Vatican bank’s chairman and director general under investigation for alleged mistakes linked to violations of Italy’s anti-laundering laws, news reports said.
The investigation is not the first trouble for the bank — formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion. In the 1980s, it was involved in a major scandal that resulted in a banker, dubbed “God’s Banker” because of his close ties to the Vatican, being found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London.
The Vatican expressed full trust in the chairman of the bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, and his director-general, identified by the Vatican directory as Paolo Cipriani. It said the bank had been working for some time to make its finances more transparent to comply with anti-terrorism and anti-money-laundering regulations.
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