THE former head of the Vatican bank compiled a secret dossier of compromising information about the Holy See because he feared for his life, it was claimed yesterday.
In the latest twist in a papal scandal, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi (67) reportedly gave copies of the documents to his closest confidantes and told them: "If I am killed, the reason for my death is in here. I've seen things in the Vatican that would frighten anyone."
One of the documents was reportedly titled "Internal enemies" and contained the names of senior clergy and powerful Italian politicians.
Other emails and letters related to "money of dubious provenance" allegedly funnelled through the Vatican bank, according to 'Corriere della Sera'.
Mr Gotti Tedeschi was appointed in 2009 but sacked on May 24, the day after the Pope's butler was arrested on suspicion of stealing confidential letters and leaking them to journalists.
He was allegedly ousted by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, in a dispute over efforts to improve the transparency of the scandal-ridden bank.
Mr Gotti Tedeschi appeared to have compiled the dossier to defend himself against charges of incompetence, mismanagement and possible money laundering. Earlier this year, the city state was listed as a "jurisdiction of concern" for money laundering in the US State Department's annual international narcotics control strategy report.
Mr Gotti Tedeschi was so fearful for his safety that he hired bodyguards and sought advice from a private investigation agency, the Italian media reported.
The claims evoked memories of one of the Vatican's darkest chapters -- the mysterious death in 1982 of Roberto Calvi, nicknamed "God's Banker", who was president of Banco Ambrosiano, Italy's largest bank.
After the failure of the bank, which had close links to the Vatican, Calvi was found hanged from scaffolding beneath BlackFriars Bridge in London, amid suspicions he had been murdered by Mafia godfathers as punishment for losing money they had invested.
"Gotti Tedeschi was nicknamed 'the Pope's banker' and he feared meeting the same end as 'God's banker'," said 'Il Fatto Quotidiano', a daily newspaper with a reputation for investigative reporting.
The dossier, allegedly compiled by Mr Gotti Tedeschi, was discovered by police after they raided his home and office in Milan and Piacenza, both in northern Italy, on Tuesday.
He was questioned for up to nine hours on Tuesday and Wednesday, during which he reportedly told them: "I'm afraid for my life."
(© Daily Telegraph, London)