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3 arrested in Vatican bank inquiry

ROME — A senior Vatican prelate, an agent of Italy’s secret service, and a financial broker were arrested Friday in a corruption investigation that is part of a wider inquiry into Vatican bank transactions.

The three were charged with fraud and corruption, Rome prosecutor Nello Rossi said Friday . Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, the former head of a Vatican financial department called APSA, is among the three people taken into custody, he said.

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The three men allegedly tried to bring $26 million into Italy from Switzerland in a private jet, Rossi said.

The rented plane landed in Locarno, Switzerland, and remained there for several days, he said. The money never left Switzerland because the broker reneged on the deal, the prosecutor said.

Attempts to reach a lawyer for Scarano were not successful. Scarano was suspended more than a month ago from his duties at APSA, a department that oversees the Holy See’s real estate holdings, ‘‘as soon as his superiors were informed that he was under investigation,’’ Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

The arrests came two days after Pope Francis named a commission to oversee operations of the bank. Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s watchdog for money laundering and terrorism financing, is calling for independent supervision of the bank, which is known as the Institute for the Works of Religion, or IOR. The bank oversees about 7.1 billion euros in assets.

The ‘‘IOR is committed to full cooperation with authorities,’’ the bank said Friday.

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