The Vatican on Tuesday denied an Italian newspaper report linking its IOR bank to Monte dei Paschi di Siena's 2007 acquisition of smaller rival Antonveneta, a deal which is now the center of a widening corruption investigation.
The Corriere della Sera
reported on Monday that the chief executive of the Vatican's Institute
for Works of Religion (IOR) had "delicate and important meetings" with
Monte Paschi's adviser for the 9-billion euro purchase of Antonveneta.
It also listed several sets of
numbers it said identified IOR bank accounts used to transmit funds to
Monte Paschi for the acquisition. Prosecutors are looking into
allegations that bribes were paid to secure the deal.
The secretive Vatican bank has faced heavy criticism in the past for
its lack of transparency and last year Moneyval, a committee backed by
the Council of Europe, urged it to take more action against money
The Vatican denied the Corriere della
Sera report and said the IOR numbered its bank accounts differently to
the number sets in the article.
"Not only did the
IOR meetings on the Antonveneta question mentioned in the Corriere
article never take place, but it can be ruled out that Monte Paschi
executives had funds from IOR," Holy See spokesman Father Federico
The statement followed a briefer
denial on Monday, when Lombardi said the Corriere report was "not
reliable" and no such meetings took place.
Paschi, which now depends on a 3.9 billion euro state loan, paid Banco
Santander SA more than 9 billion euros ($12 billion) in cash for
Antonveneta, only weeks after the Spanish bank had bought it for 6.6
It later racked up heavy losses on
derivatives and structured finance deals, apparently put in place to
massage accounts and help soften the impact of the costly acquisition on
its badly weakened capital base.