From Desmond O'Grady in Rome
THE JOIN] Vatican-Italian commission on the Vatican Bank (10R)-Ambrosiano Bank affair is believed to have agreed to disagree. Italian press reports which are considered reliable claim the joint commission has tabled a report which merely documents the divergent opinions.
The three Vatican commissioners argue that the late Ambrosiano Bank President Roberto Calvi, deceived it regarding the operation of companies IOR nominally controlled, and that he is thus not responsible for Ambrosiano debts. For their part, the Italian commissioners claim IOR was aware and is responsible (one of the three Italian commissioners says IOR is responsible only for some of the companies).
The Ambrosiano Bank scandal was one of the most glamorous in recent memory. The President of the hank, Roberto Calvi, was found hanged under Blackfriars' Bridge in London in June, 1982. IOR owned tiny companies in Latin America which owed almost
$1100 million to the Ambrosiano Bank.
In November 1982, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, told the College of Cardinals that Calvi had used IOU's name for secret, illegal operations without the its knowledge. Only in July 1981, it was claimed, had IOR learned it was a direct owner of Iwo companies and indirect owner of eight more".
As the Chairman of IOR, the American Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, had been a Director of the Ambrosiano's subsidiary in Nassau since 1971. Some found it hard to credit this professed Vatican unawareness, and even some who believed it found it hard to excuse. But apparently the Vatican position has remained unchanged in the year since the Joint Commission was appointed.
The Vatican is in a strong legal position, but it is said that some in the Vatican favour a token payment in recognition of moral responsibility. Others, however, are opposed to this, arguing it would be considered an admission of guilt.