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Authors: Rupert Cornwell

God's Banker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOD'S BANKER

The Life and Death of Roberto Calvi
Rupert Cornwell

The death in London by hanging of one of Italy's leading
bankers, Roberto Calvi, focused the world's attention upon
the affairs of the Banco Ambrosiano, a bank closely involved
in Vatican finance. This bank, which Calvi had devoted his
career to building up, was under heavy investigation at the
time of his death, and Calvi himself had been charged with
fraud and the illegal transfer, or misappropriation, of funds
running into millions.

Following Calvi's macabre downfall, the Banco Ambrosiano
collapsed, exposing the darker face of Italy, its financial and
political intrigue, sinister secret societies, intimidation, black­mail and murder. The Ambrosiano affair shook the inter­national banking system. It helped to expose years of reckless
financial behaviour by the Vatican, calling into question the
judgement of the Pope himself. Aspects of the affair have still
not been explained: some probably never will be. But the
broad outline of what happened is now clear.

After intensive research, including interviews with leading
figures in the Italian financial world, with Cavi's family and
associates in the United States and with bankers in the capitals
of Europe, Rupert Cornwell, the
Financial Times
Rome
correspondent, has been able to unravel the complex story of
Roberto Calvi and his world, and to piece together this
amazing chronicle of financial malpractice in high places.

For this
Counterpoint
edition he has up-dated and expanded
the final chapters to take account of the latest developments in
this extraordinary story.

 

 

GOD'S BANKER

Epimenides the Cretan said: all Cretans are liars.
Was he telling the truth or a lie?

Euboulides, Greek Philospher, 4th Century
b.c.

. . . Fare che diventasse per sempre - non piu una
burla, no; ma una realta, la realta di una vera
pazzia: qua, tutti mascherati, e la sala del trono,
e questi quattro miei consiglieri; segreti, e -
s'intende - traditori.

(.
. .
So that it might be no longer a joke; but a
reality for ever, the reality of true madness. Here,
in the throne room, with everyone masked; and
these four secret advisors of mine
-
naturally
traitors all.)

Pirandello,
Henry
IV.

 

First published in Great Britain by Victor Gollancz Ltd 1983

First published in Unwin Paperbacks 1984

This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.
No reproduction without permission. All rights reserved.

UNWIN PAPERBACKS
40 Museum Street, London WC1A 1LU, UK

Unwin Paperbacks
Park
Lane,
Hemel Hempstead, Herts HP2 4TE, UK

George Allen & Unwin Australia Pty Ltd.,
8 Napier Street, North Sydney, NSW 2060, Australia

© Rupert Cornwell 1983,1984

Condition of Sale. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated, without the Publishers' prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the purchaser.

To Angela

 

isbn 0 04 332099 6

Printed in Great Britain by Guernsey Press Co. Ltd,
Guernsey, Channel Islands

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This book is drawn from three main sources: my own experiences
and recollections as correspondent of the
Financial Times
in Italy,
during the events described in the last two thirds of it; the work of
colleagues in the Italian and foreign press—an irreplaceable sup­port for the journalist everywhere; and direct interviews with and
documentary assistance from many of those involved with the story
of Roberto Calvi and Banco Ambrosiano. Numerous people have
given their time to help with the book's preparation. I am deeply
grateful to all of them, especially those who would have preferred
not to discuss a subject they would best like to forget. Many of them
too have specifically asked not to be mentioned; and obviously I
must respect their confidence. For that reason I will mention none
of them, as a partial list of thanks might only be misleading.

Those to whom I can express gratitude include my paper for
allowing me to take a sabbatical at the ideal moment, as well as
friends on its staff who gave hospitality and help. They include
Duncan Campbell-Smith in London, Reggie Dale in Washington,
Paul Betts in New York and Nikki Kelly in the Bahamas. In Italy, I
would take the opportunity of acknowledging my debt to the
excellent book already published on the Ambrosiano affair, II
Banco Paga
,
by Leo Sisti and Gianfranco Modolo. Some of the
other published works from which I have drawn are referred to in
footnotes. Then I must thank Professor Luigi Spaventa, who kindly
read the manuscript and made valuable suggestions and caught
potentially embarrassing mistakes. Similar thanks, for similar
reasons, go to Mary Venturini, my colleague in Rome, James
Buxton, and to George Armstrong. A special affectionate word
must be kept for Nicoletta Rosati, our secretary in the
Financial
Times
Office in Rome. She not
only
typed out two thirds of the

manuscript, but also produced some precious and, she will not mind

my saying, very Roman insights into an uncommonly complicated
tale.

This book is an effort to provide a reconstruction that is at least
understandable. Inevitably however, I will have made errors. I
apologize for them in advance, offering in my defence only the
observation that the book has been written in good faith—not the
most conspicuous quality in the Calvi story.

Finally a brief note about the currencies referred to throughout the
book. To avoid unmanageable strings of noughts, I have used the
American billion in preference to thousands of millions, where the
Italian lira is concerned. Between 1970 and 1982, the value of the
pound varied between a low of around 1,400 lire and a peak of about
2,400 lire. The simplest, if rather rough, average conversion rate
would perhaps be 2,000 lire. The lira/dollar rate has risen even more
sharply. Between 1970 and 1975 the dollar stayed within the range
of 580 to 680 lire. In 1976 it jumped at one stage to 900 lire. Over the
next three years the rate declined to 780 lire. But from 1980, the
dollar began an ascent which was showing no sign of abating during
the time of writing. By early June 1983, it had passed the 1,500 lire
mark.

 

Rupert Cornwell

 

CONTENTS

Some of the Cast                                                  14

Introduction                                                              19

The Beginning                                                          27

Sindona                                                                     36

Freemasonry                                                             44

Vatican                                                                     51

Empire Building                                                       59

Defence                                                                     68

Rizzoli                                                                       74

Revenge                                                                    80

Inspection                                                                 86

The Bank of Italy Affair                                          98

New Ploys                                                              108

Messages from Licia                                               118

Corriere                                                                   129

Prison and Trial                                                       138

Letters of Patronage                                               146

The Man from Olivetti                                            155

The Last Illusions                                                   163

Carboni and Flight                                                  174

Week of Fire                                                           185

Death in London                                                    193

Clearing up the Mess                                              206

Aftermath                                                               217

Vatican Disarray                                                     225

The Vatican and the Money                                   231

Epilogue                                                                  238

Conclusions
Appendix
Index

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