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The many secrets of ‘God’s Banker’
by Chris­t­ian Fras­er

After 25 years, two inquests and a very lengthy tri­al — the mys­tery remains.

The ver­dict of the court was that Rober­to Calvi was mur­dered — but the evi­dence against the five accused, said the judge, was insuf­fi­cient and at times con­tra­dic­to­ry.

Despite the var­i­ous motives put for­ward it seems the jury was not con­vinced with what, in the end, was a very com­pli­cat­ed plot.

The pro­ceed­ings in court last­ed less than five min­utes. Among the defen­dants, there was of course qui­et cel­e­bra­tion.

But this will come as a huge dis­ap­point­ment to the Calvi fam­i­ly, par­tic­u­lar­ly his son Car­lo, who had cam­paigned for the case to be re-opened.

As chair­man of Ban­co Ambrosiano, Rober­to Calvi was involved in some very sen­si­tive finan­cial trans­ac­tions.

‘Mafia mon­ey’

In his time he had worked for the Vat­i­can bank, the Mafia, and the Freema­sons. But in June 1982 when his bank col­lapsed — with debts of $1.5bn (£750m) — he sud­den­ly found him­self with very pow­er­ful ene­mies.

One of the key defen­dants in this case was Giuseppe Calo, a con­vict­ed mob­ster who in the 1980s had been the chief cashier of the Sicil­ian Mafia, the Cosa Nos­tra.

If I had want­ed him dead do you not think I would have picked my own peo­ple to do the job?
Giuseppe Calo

The pros­e­cu­tion argued that Calo had ordered the killing, angry that Calvi had lost the Mafi­a’s mon­ey and wor­ried he might reveal all the secrets.

But defence lawyer Rena­to Bor­zone, who defend­ed anoth­er of the accused, Flavio Car­boni, said there was no evi­dence to sug­gest the Mafia were ever involved.

“I still main­tain it was sui­cide,” he said. “But if it was mur­der, there was nev­er any evi­dence to sus­pect my clien­t’s involve­ment — or indeed that of the Mafia.”

For a large part of the two years this case has run for, it has played out in front of an emp­ty court­room.

The truth is, here in Italy, the death of “God’s banker” is no longer the sen­sa­tion it once was.

For a lot of peo­ple this tri­al was an uncom­fort­able reminder of a dark and vio­lent peri­od many would pre­fer to for­get.

The pros­e­cu­tion said that togeth­er with the oth­er four oth­er defen­dants — three busi­ness­man and a woman — Calo had lured Calvi to Lon­don into the hands of the Mafia.

Calo, who gave evi­dence from his high secu­ri­ty prison, denied this charge on Tues­day in his final sub­mis­sions.

“I had no inter­est in killing Calvi,” he said.

“I did­n’t have the time, nor the incli­na­tion. Besides, if I had want­ed him dead do you not think I would have picked my own peo­ple to do the job?”

In fact, Calo’s defence argued there were oth­ers who had want­ed Calvi silenced.

Catholic his­to­ry

Philip Willan, author of a book on the tri­al, The Last Sup­per, says the sus­pi­cions still fall on some with­in the Vat­i­can.

“The church does not come out of this well,” he said. “And it’s lucky for them that peo­ple lost inter­est in this tri­al a long time ago.

“The defence lawyer for Giuseppe Calo argued that evi­dence from the Calvi fam­i­ly sug­gest­ed the banker was fright­ened of the Vat­i­can, was in con­flict with the Vat­i­can, and was almost cer­tain­ly try­ing to black­mail peo­ple in the Vat­i­can,” Mr Willan says.

“The lawyer for Calo said the Vat­i­can had an entire­ly plau­si­ble motive for killing him.”

Ban­co Ambrosiano had a Catholic his­to­ry.

In fact it was sug­gest­ed by the defence, dur­ing this tri­al, that through off­shore accounts Mr Calvi had been send­ing mon­ey to Poland to help fund the pro-democ­ra­cy Sol­i­dar­i­ty move­ment — a cause sup­port­ed by Pope John Paul II.

But Mr Calvi was also work­ing for the mafia and a rather shad­owy group of Freema­sons, called P2, which had exist­ed here in Italy as a coun­ter­bal­ance to the many com­mu­nist inter­ests which pre­vailed.

In short Mr Calvi was involved with some very sen­si­tive oper­a­tions.

One thing we know is that he had many secrets.

Philip Willan says: “This was a man who was sup­posed to keep his silence. And with an inves­ti­ga­tion pend­ing — he was threat­en­ing not too. There were plen­ty who want­ed him dead.”


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