Rome, July 1 - The Vatican cleric at the centre of an alleged fraud and corruption plot said Monday that he was only trying to do a favour for some friends. Msgr Nunzio Scarano, who was questioned in a 20-million-euro corruption plot involving the Holy See's asset-management agency APSA, told prosecutors that he "wanted to do a favour" for Paolo, Cesare and Maurizio D'Amico. They are implicated in the plot that has led to charges against Scarano, Giovanni Maria Zito, an agent in Italy's domestic intelligence agency, and Rome broker Giovanni Carenzio. It's alleged the trio were involved in a failed attempt to fly 20 million euros of alleged tax-evasion proceeds from Switzerland back to Italy. Scarano told prosecutors that he "acted in good faith" in the affair. However, things began to unravel when Carenzio started making excessive demands, said Scarano. Police said Scarano and Zito got a private jet to fly the cash for three D'Amico men, Salerno-based shipowner brothers who were friends with Scarano. Police said the D'Amico brothers, whose fleet is based in Salerno but who are prominent in Rome business circles, were the alleged beneficiaries of what they called "a complex and expensive operation to evade airport customs controls and bring back into Italy money that is believed to be the fruit of tax evasion. Zito is suspected of getting 400,000 euros for arranging cover for the flight. Scarano was suspended a month ago after being named in a separate probe into receiving money in Salerno. The Vatican has said it would cooperate fully with the probe.
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di Sebastiano Caspanello