Friends of disgraced Vatican prelate deny involvement

Twenty million euros 'not ours,' say D'Amicos

Friends of disgraced Vatican prelate deny involvement

Rome, July 3 - Two men being probed together with disgraced Vatican prelate Msgr Nunzio Scarano denied Wednesday that 20 million euros in cash seized by police belonged to them. "Those 20 million euros are not ours," Paolo and Cesare D'Amico, whose family was friendly with Scarano, told prosecutors. Their version of events does not correspond to what Scarano, who until recently led a key Vatican accounting unit, told prosecutors under continued questioning. Scarano has denied charges that he conspired with a former Italian spy and a financial broker to try to secretly repatriate 20 million euros of laundered money from Switzerland to Italy. Scarano, who is from the port city of Salerno near Naples, was suspended a month ago from his job as head of analytic accounts at the Holy See's asset-management agency APSA when police started sifting through his assets because of his suspiciously large financial holdings and artistic trove. He was arrested in late June on suspicion of planning to elude customs controls along with Giovanni Maria Zito, a recently transferred agent in the AISI domestic intelligence agency, and financial broker Giovanni Carenzio. Police said Scarano and Zito set up a private jet to fly the cash for three Salerno-based shipowners, the D'Amicos, whose family was friendly with Scarano. Police have said the D'Amico brothers 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".

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