HOW MUCH BLOOD IS ON THE HANDS OF GOD’S BANK?
“Giorgio Ambrosoli?” asks a voice behind him. Ambrosoli turns around. It’s close to midnight on 11th July 1979. Three men stand in front of him. “Yes?” the lawyer confirms, only twigging fractions of a second later that he’s just uttered his own death sentence. Four bullets hit his body. Ambrosoli collapses on the pavement outside his Milan home.
The Vatican bank’s biggest scandal was like the end of a Shakespearean tragedy: everyone died. The two main protagonists of this wild violence were Michele Sindona and Roberto Calvi. While attempting to further bend the laws of the financial world, they triggered a crisis that tore down powerful banks and numerous illegal businesses that had the Vatican bank as one of their main shareholders.
Giorgio Ambrosoli was appointed as a liquidator to one of the banks controlled by Michele Sindona and discovered unusual payments involving Sindona’s account, which had been handled by the Vatican bank. He threatened to reveal what many had long suspected: the mafia’s money laundering, the involvement of the Vatican bank and the role of Michele Sindona. The latter hired three killers, but their victim Ambrosoli was only one of many deaths: everyone who got too close to the secrets of the Vatican bank was murdered – even the protagonists themselves died in the end. Michele Sindona was sentenced to 25 years in prison, where he died from cyanide poisoning after announcing he was going to spill the beans about the Vatican bank. Meanwhile, Roberto Calvi was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982 after also wanting to confess. The two bankers had made a pact with the devil – and paid the price.
And today? Well, fresh allegations of money laundering continue to dog the Vatican bank, despite Pope Francis ordering it to be more transparent. Will a moderniser such as he be able to open all of the doors?