Nuns arrested,Senator probed in OAP case
Rome, June 10 – Two nuns were arrested and a request to arrest a Senator filed Wednesday over the fraudulent bankruptcy of a southern Italian nursing-home chain called Divine Providence.
The case highlighted the progress made by the Vatican Bank towards full transparency of its formerly opaque affairs, investigators said.
“The IOR’s collaboration was precious,” prosecutors told reporters.
An arrest warrant was issued for the Senator from the conservative New Centre Right-Popular Area (NCD-AP) party, Antonio Azzolini, on charges of involvement in the fake crash.
A request for Azzolini’s immunity to be lifted already has been presented to parliament, judicial sources said.
“From today I’m the one in charge here,” Azzolini is heard saying in a wiretap obtained in the case, when he allegedly took over running the chain.
Azzolini’s “reign of terror”, investigators said, was marked by a spate of “wild and totally indiscriminate hirings of chain staff linked to him”.
He was also prone to “vulgar intimidation of the sisters,” they said.
Azzolini denied making the statements published in the wiretaps.
The two nuns arrested in the probe in Puglia are among the most senior members of the Ancelle Congregation of Divine Providence, the religious order running a series of nursing homes at the heart of the 500 million euro bankruptcy.
Also arrested are a former director general, administrators and consultants of the order. In all as many as 25 people are under investigation on charges of bilking funds from the foundation.
Established to give a voice to the voiceless by helping old people unable to look after themselves, the religious order “seems to have completely reneged on its founding canons,” a statement by the prosecutor’s office in Bari said.
Information provided by the Investigatoirs said the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), the Vatican Bank, allowed investigators to “close the circle” in their probe.
Replies supplied by the Holy See bankers allowed investigators in Puglia to undertake “a more pregnant technical examination” of financial flows through bank account data in which assets of the Congregation of Divine Providence had been hidden, judicial sources said.
Meanwhile it was disclosed that a Socialist MP, Raffaele Di Gioia, also is among those under investigation in the probe which appeared to be widening.
Finance police confiscated 32 million euros and a building that the nuns were planning to turn into a private clinic in Guidonia in Rome province.
The money and the building were held in the names of parallel church orders run by nuns from the Divine Providence congregation.
As much as 350 million euros of the total debts of half a billion euros run up by the congregation were debts to the Italian state.
The order also had a secret bank account in which donations from the faithful were stashed.
Part of the money was used to finance a campaign for the beatification by the Church of the founder of the order, Don Uva, the sources said.