Vatican cleric, 2 others arrested in bank investigation

ROME (REUTERS) - A Vatican cleric, a member of Italy's secret services and a financial broker were arrested on Friday as part of an Italian investigation into the Vatican bank, a police source and a lawyer said.

The cleric, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, worked as an accountant in the Vatican's financial administration. He was arrested in a parish in Rome's outskirts, his lawyer Silverio Sica told Reuters.

Scarano was suspended from his duties several weeks ago when he was placed under investigation by magistrates in the southern city of Salerno, his home town.

In that investigation, Scarano was accused of taking some 600,000 euros (S$1 million) in cash out of an account in the Vatican bank a little at a time, usually 10,000 euros, and giving it to friends who gave him checks. He then deposited the checks into an Italian bank account to pay off a mortgage.

A Vatican spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

The arrests came a day after the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had set up a commission of inquiry into the Vatican bank, which is formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion and has been hit by a number of scandals in the past decades.