Roberto Calvi

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Roberto Calvi (13 April 1920–17 June 1982) was an Italian banker dubbed "God's Banker" by the press because of his close association with the Holy See. A native of Milan, Calvi was Chairman of Banco Ambrosiano, which collapsed in one of modern Italy's biggest political scandals. A source of enduring controversy, his death in London in June 1982 was ruled a murder after two coroner's inquests and an independent investigation. In Rome, in June 2007, five people were acquitted of the murder.

Claims have been made that factors in Calvi's death were the Vatican Bank, Banco Ambrosiano's main shareholder; the Mafia, which may have used Banco Ambrosiano for money laundering; and the Propaganda Due or P2 clandestine masonic lodge.

Contents

The Banco Ambrosiano scandal

Roberto Calvi was the chairman of Italy's second largest private bank, Banco Ambrosiano when it went bankrupt in 1982. In 1978, the Bank of Italy had produced a report on the Banco Ambrosiano, which found that several billion lire had been exported illegally. This led to criminal investigations. In 1981, Calvi was tried and given a four-year suspended sentence and fined $19.8 million for taking $27 million out of the country in violation of Italian currency laws. He was released on bail pending an appeal and kept his position at the bank. During his short spell in jail, he attempted suicide. Calvi's family maintain that he had been manipulated by others and that he was innocent of the crimes attributed to him.[1]

The controversy surrounding Calvi's dealings at Banco Ambrosiano was the echo of a previous scandal in 1974, when the Holy See lost an estimated $30 million as a result of the collapse of the Franklin National Bank, which was owned by the Sicilian-born financier Michele Sindona. Bad loans and foreign currency transactions had led to the collapse of the bank, and Sindona later died in prison after drinking coffee laced with cyanide.[2]

On 5 June 1982, two weeks before the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, Calvi had written a letter of warning to Pope John Paul II, stating that such an event would “provoke a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions in which the Church will suffer the gravest damage."[3] Banco Ambrosiano collapsed in June 1982 following the discovery of debts (according to various sources) of between 700 million and 1.5 billion US dollars. Much of the money had been siphoned off via the Vatican Bank (strictly named the Istituto per le Opere Religiose or Institute of Religious Works), which was Banco Ambrosiano's main shareholder.

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