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Mason indicted over murder of ‘God’s banker’

By John Phillips in Rome

Mag­is­trates inves­ti­gat­ing the death of the Ital­ian banker Rober­to Calvi under Black­fri­ars Bridge in London in 1982 are focus­ing on Licio Gel­li, the for­mer “grand mas­ter” of the ille­gal P2 Mason­ic lodge that plot­ted against Ital­ian democ­ra­cy in the 1970s.

Mr Gel­li denies he was involved but has acknowl­edged that the financier, known as “God’s banker” because of his links with the Vat­i­can, was mur­dered. He said the killing was com­mis­sioned in Poland.

This is thought to be a ref­er­ence to Calvi’s alleged involve­ment in financ­ing the Sol­i­dar­i­ty trade union move­ment at the request of the late Pope John Paul II, accord­ing to the sources quot­ed by La Repub­bli­ca news­pa­per.

Two Roman inves­ti­gat­ing mag­is­trates, Judge Maria Mon­teleone and Judge Luca Tescaroli, sent Mr Gel­li a judi­cial let­ter inform­ing him that he is for­mal­ly under inves­ti­ga­tion on charges of order­ing the mur­der along with four oth­er peo­ple — Flavio Car­boni, a shad­owy busi­ness­man with secret ser­vice con­tacts, his girl­friend Manuela Kleins­ing, the Cosa Nos­tra boss Giuseppe Calo and an entre­pre­neur, Ernesto Dioatal­le­vi. The four oth­er sus­pects were indict­ed on mur­der charges in April and are to stand tri­al in Octo­ber.

Inves­ti­ga­tors believe that Calvi was mur­dered as “pun­ish­ment” for hav­ing used his posi­tion as head of the Ban­co Ambrosiano, then Italy’s largest pri­vate bank, to seize large sums of mon­ey belong­ing to the Sicil­ian Mafia and to Mr Gel­li.

The indict­ment also says that the five ordered Calvi’s mur­der to pre­vent the banker “from using black­mail pow­er against his polit­i­cal and insti­tu­tion­al spon­sors from the world of Mason­ry, belong­ing to the P2 lodge, or to the Insti­tute for Reli­gious Works [the Vat­i­can Bank] with whom he had man­aged invest­ments and financ­ing with con­spic­u­ous sums of mon­ey, some of it com­ing from Cosa Nos­tra and pub­lic agen­cies”.

Near­ly 1,000 promi­nent pub­lic fig­ures includ­ing busi­ness­men such as the cur­rent Prime Min­is­ter Sil­vio Berlus­coni, senior army and police offi­cers, politi­cians and civ­il ser­vants belonged to Mr Gel­li’s Pro­pa­gan­da Due (P2) clan­des­tine Mason­ic lodge, dis­solved in 1981 for plot­ting to estab­lish an author­i­tar­i­an regime.

When inter­ro­gat­ed by mag­is­trates in the pres­ence of his lawyer on 4 July, Mr Gel­li strong­ly denied hav­ing ordered the mur­der of Calvi, the sources said.

The for­mer grand mas­ter said he had known Calvi since 1975 when he was intro­duced to him by Umber­to Ortolani, anoth­er lead­ing P2 mem­ber, but that he had few deal­ings with the Ban­co Ambrosiano, the col­lapse of which in 1982 sent Calvi flee­ing to Lon­don.

The only deal­ing he had was in 1981 when he loaned $10m to the bank’s Nas­sau sub­sidiary in the Bahamas, which was repaid to him one month lat­er, he said.

“Calvi’s death was made to look like sui­cide,” he told the mag­is­trates. Mr Gel­li said the mur­der was relat­ed to Calvi’s deal­ings with the Vat­i­can Bank, which has always denied any moral respon­si­bil­i­ty in the Ambrosiano affair. “One evening I was at din­ner with Calvi. He was angry, black in the face. He told me that the next day he had to go and see ‘the most Holy one’ in the Vat­i­can to get $80m that he had to pay for bills relat­ing to Poland and that if he did not get the mon­ey every­thing would blow up,” Mr Gel­li was quot­ed as say­ing in La Repub­bli­ca.

“This hap­pened between 1979 and 1980, and that is why I said that to find Calvi’s assas­sins one ought to have inves­ti­gat­ed in Poland,” Mr Gel­li was quot­ed as telling the mag­is­trates.

Mag­is­trates inves­ti­gat­ing the death of the Ital­ian banker Rober­to Calvi under Black­fri­ars Bridge in Lon­don in 1982 are focus­ing on Licio Gel­li, the for­mer “grand mas­ter” of the ille­gal P2 Mason­ic lodge that plot­ted against Ital­ian democ­ra­cy in the 1970s.

Mr Gel­li denies he was involved but has acknowl­edged that the financier, known as “God’s banker” because of his links with the Vat­i­can, was mur­dered. He said the killing was com­mis­sioned in Poland.

This is thought to be a ref­er­ence to Calvi’s alleged involve­ment in financ­ing the Sol­i­dar­i­ty trade union move­ment at the request of the late Pope John Paul II, accord­ing to the sources quot­ed by La Repub­bli­ca news­pa­per.

Two Roman inves­ti­gat­ing mag­is­trates, Judge Maria Mon­teleone and Judge Luca Tescaroli, sent Mr Gel­li a judi­cial let­ter inform­ing him that he is for­mal­ly under inves­ti­ga­tion on charges of order­ing the mur­der along with four oth­er peo­ple — Flavio Car­boni, a shad­owy busi­ness­man with secret ser­vice con­tacts, his girl­friend Manuela Kleins­ing, the Cosa Nos­tra boss Giuseppe Calo and an entre­pre­neur, Ernesto Dioatal­le­vi. The four oth­er sus­pects were indict­ed on mur­der charges in April and are to stand tri­al in Octo­ber.

Inves­ti­ga­tors believe that Calvi was mur­dered as “pun­ish­ment” for hav­ing used his posi­tion as head of the Ban­co Ambrosiano, then Italy’s largest pri­vate bank, to seize large sums of mon­ey belong­ing to the Sicil­ian Mafia and to Mr Gel­li.

The indict­ment also says that the five ordered Calvi’s mur­der to pre­vent the banker “from using black­mail pow­er against his polit­i­cal and insti­tu­tion­al spon­sors from the world of Mason­ry, belong­ing to the P2 lodge, or to the Insti­tute for Reli­gious Works [the Vat­i­can Bank] with whom he had man­aged invest­ments and financ­ing with con­spic­u­ous sums of mon­ey, some of it com­ing from Cosa Nos­tra and pub­lic agen­cies”.
Near­ly 1,000 promi­nent pub­lic fig­ures includ­ing busi­ness­men such as the cur­rent Prime Min­is­ter Sil­vio Berlus­coni, senior army and police offi­cers, politi­cians and civ­il ser­vants belonged to Mr Gel­li’s Pro­pa­gan­da Due (P2) clan­des­tine Mason­ic lodge, dis­solved in 1981 for plot­ting to estab­lish an author­i­tar­i­an regime.

When inter­ro­gat­ed by mag­is­trates in the pres­ence of his lawyer on 4 July, Mr Gel­li strong­ly denied hav­ing ordered the mur­der of Calvi, the sources said.

The for­mer grand mas­ter said he had known Calvi since 1975 when he was intro­duced to him by Umber­to Ortolani, anoth­er lead­ing P2 mem­ber, but that he had few deal­ings with the Ban­co Ambrosiano, the col­lapse of which in 1982 sent Calvi flee­ing to Lon­don.

The only deal­ing he had was in 1981 when he loaned $10m to the bank’s Nas­sau sub­sidiary in the Bahamas, which was repaid to him one month lat­er, he said.

“Calvi’s death was made to look like sui­cide,” he told the mag­is­trates. Mr Gel­li said the mur­der was relat­ed to Calvi’s deal­ings with the Vat­i­can Bank, which has always denied any moral respon­si­bil­i­ty in the Ambrosiano affair. “One evening I was at din­ner with Calvi. He was angry, black in the face. He told me that the next day he had to go and see ‘the most Holy one’ in the Vat­i­can to get $80m that he had to pay for bills relat­ing to Poland and that if he did not get the mon­ey every­thing would blow up,” Mr Gel­li was quot­ed as say­ing in La Repub­bli­ca.

“This hap­pened between 1979 and 1980, and that is why I said that to find Calvi’s assas­sins one ought to have inves­ti­gat­ed in Poland,” Mr Gel­li was quot­ed as telling the mag­is­trates.