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'God's Banker' exhumed

Rotating Compass & Square

BBC Rome Correspondent Orla Guerin: It is still unclear what happened and how many people were involved
BBC World

'God's Banker' exhumed

Wednesday, December 16, 1998

Roberto Calvi, freemasons, freemasonry

Roberto Calvi, freemasons, freemasonry

Mr Calvi's body was found under Blackfriars bridge (background)

Roberto Calvi, freemasons, freemasonry

Roberto Calvi: His death still a mystery

The remains of a prominent Italian banker, Roberto Calvi, who was at the centre of a huge financial scandal, have been exhumed at a cemetery near Milan.

Police, magistrates and Calvi family members watched as the brown casket containing his remains was placed in a hearse in the town of Drezzo, and then taken to Milan for tests.

Pathologists want to establish the cause of death of Mr Calvi, who was found hanging under London's Blackfriars Bridge in 1982 with his pockets full of bricks.

A British coroners court then ruled that Mr Calvi's death was suicide.

Conspiracy theory

Members of Mr Calvi's family have long insisted that he was murdered. They suspect Mafia involvement in his death. The exhumation, however, was ordered only last year, when four men were charged with conspiracy to murder Mr Calvi.

One of them is allegedly a Sicilian mafia boss, while another, a Mafia informer, has testified that the banker was killed because of fears he would tell the authorities about his money laundering schemes.

Mr Calvi's body had already been exhumed from the same tomb in 1993 for tests on his clothing, but then no new autopsy was held.

"Laser tests on his clothing revealed stains that hadn't shown up before," Mr Calvi's son, Carlo, a Montreal-based businessman, said.

"So I believe on this basis we could find some new evidence," he said.

Pathologists will now examine Mr Calvi's remains to try to establish if Calvi committed suicide, or his death was indeed murder. He might have been strangled or perhaps poisoned in his luxury London flat.

Links with Mafia and Vatican

Mr Calvi was chairman of Italy's largest private bank, Banco Ambrosiano, and had close links to organised crime. Ironically, during the same period, Calvi's close ties to the Vatican's own bank, the Institute for Religious Affairs, earned him the nickname "God's banker."

When Banco Ambrosiano collapsed, the Vatican bank had to help pay compensation to creditors.

Our correspondent in Rome, Orla Guerin, says that the exhumation is reopening one of the murkiest periods in recent Italian history.

Further Reading:

St. Peter's Squared - Roberto Calvi and the P2 Masonic Lodge Conspiracy

Freemasonry in Italy