WAS THERE A HIDDEN MAFIA-VATICAN NETWORK?
On 2nd September 1957, Michele Sindona enters the Grand Hotel Et Des Palmes in the Sicilian city of Palermo. Two bodyguards frisk the lawyer for weapons – before introducing Sindona to the crème de la crème of the criminal underworld. In a luxury suite sit representatives of the US and Italian mafia, the overlords of drugs, weapons and prostitution. “How can we launder millions of dollars?” they ask Sindona. “Don’t worry,” he replies. “I have a plan.”
At the centre of the plan was the Vatican bank. Sindona wasn’t just a lawyer but also a ruthless banker known as the “The Shark”. He transferred the money from his own account to the Vatican bank – and then on to an escrow account overseas. So, indirectly, the Vatican washed the blood and cocaine from the mafia’s banknotes. For their trouble, they picked up a fat 15%, a hefty commission.
Insider Marcello Bordoni later testified: “It took place every day and the stakes were very high. The methods were really the most primitive and criminal you can imagine.”
These financial transactions were only the beginning of a link between the Vatican and the mafia. Sindona was a ‘guest’ of the Holy See’s bank so frequently that Pope Paul VI made him a financial advisor: “I was told, Michele Sindona, that you were sent from God.” Sindona got to work immediately: he merged all of the semi-illegal and illegal assets to make himself and the Vatican rich. The cash flows of his two clients, the mafia and Vatican, soon became intertwined. But this was only the first step for Sindona and the Vatican Bank…
SQUEAKY CLEAN The bank is officially separate from the Vatican, so the Pope is always innocent.