World of Knowledge (Australia) - - History -

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.

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