Vatican bank's ousted president comes out swinging

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- The ousted president of the Vatican bank came out swinging Friday after he was cleared in a money-laundering investigation, accusing the bank's board of causing "grave damage" to the Holy See by firing him in 2012.

Ettore Gotti Tedeschi ended a nearly two-year silence with a statement issued after a Rome judge threw out a Vatican bank-related investigation against him. The court ruled Gotti Tedeschi had nothing to do with daily operations at the Institute for Religious Works and was in fact working to bring the Vatican's financial institution into line with international anti-money-laundering standards when he was fired.

In a five-page statement entitled "The Rehabilitation of Ettore Gotti Tedeschi," the banker's attorneys said the ruling vindicated their client and "shows the unfounded ... accusations" made by the bank's board when it fired him.

The lawyers threatened legal action and said the ruling showed the board had committed "grave errors and thus grave damage to the Holy See" by firing their client when he was working to improve transparency and accountability.

The bank said it had no comment.

Gotti Tedeschi's May 2012 ouster was an unusually brutal public dressing-down of a Vatican official said to have had the ear of Pope Benedict XVI. In explaining its no-confidence vote at the time, the bank's board issued a stinging, nine-point statement accusing him of a host of personal and professional shortcomings.

None of them had to do with the money-laundering case, however.

The court ruling exonerating Gotti Tedeschi stemmed from a 2010 money-laundering investigation by Rome prosecutors. Police seized 23 million euros ($31.5 million) from a Vatican bank account at an Italian bank, though it was later ordered released. Gotti Tedeschi and the bank's then-top manager, Paolo Cipriani, were placed under investigation.

Judge Flavia Costantini ruled, though, that Gotti Tedeschi had been wrongly caught up in the sweep because he was the bank's legal representative. Cipriani was the primary manager and remains under investigation in the case. He and his deputy resigned in disgrace in July after a Vatican monsignor was arrested in an alleged money-smuggling operation and a money-laundering case involving his Vatican bank accounts.

"The accusations by the board that Ettore Gotti Tedeschi didn't know how to interact with the management appears now, given the evidence, to have been the fruit of a grave error of judgment on the part of those who didn't understand the good reasons why he didn't have faith in the management," the lawyers said.


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