Ex-Vatican Bank chief's behavior was cited

A psychiatrist had doubts about Ettore Gotti Tedeschi's mental health, leaked papers show.

Posted: June 10, 2012

VATICAN CITY - Intrigue mounted Saturday over the controversial ouster of the Vatican bank's president, with leaked documents showing that board members and even a psychiatrist had questioned his behavior and fitness for the job months before he was fired.

The board of the Vatican bank ousted Ettore Gotti Tedeschi on May 24 in a unanimous no-confidence vote, firing a man handpicked by Pope Benedict XVI's No. 2 to help turn around an institution plagued by scandal for decades.

The board has already made public a scathing denunciation of Gotti Tedeschi's failings as president, saying he was impeding the bank's efforts to be more financially transparent as the Vatican tries to get on the so-called white list of countries that share financial information.

The newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano cited a letter Saturday from a psychotherapist in Rome, Pietro Lasalvia, who wrote to the bank's general director in March with his concerns about Gotti Tedeschi's personal behavior.

In the letter, a copy of which the Associated Press obtained Saturday, Lasalvia summarized his observations of Gotti Tedeschi at the bank's 2011 Christmas office party, saying he was "dismayed" by what he witnessed.

Lasalvia, a specialist in the psychology of workplace stress who had been brought into the bank to tend to staffers' needs, said Gotti Tedeschi demonstrated certain behaviors linked to a pathological disorder, but stressed Saturday that his observations were not a diagnosis but merely reflections.

E-mails and phone calls to Gotti Tedeschi's attorney and assistant at Banco Santander, where Gotti Tedeschi is chairman of the Spanish bank's Italian branch, weren't returned Saturday.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, declined to comment because the matter concerned "reserved documents that were wrongly published."

Gotti Tedeschi's ouster has jolted the staid world of Vatican affairs, in part because of his close ties to Benedict. The firing became all the more worrisome to the Holy See when Gotti Tedeschi's home was raided recently in an unrelated corruption probe, and police seized documents he had prepared to respond to his firing.

The seizure and Gotti Tedeschi's subsequent questioning by prosecutors prompted the Vatican on Friday to issue a warning to its ex-bank president and Italian authorities, reminding them that its officials and documents enjoy immunity protections because the Vatican is a sovereign state.

Gotti Tedeschi and the bank's general director were placed under investigation in 2010 by Rome prosecutors for alleged violations of Italy's anti-money-laundering norms in conducting a routine transaction from a Vatican Bank account at an Italian bank. Prosecutors seized approximately $28.97 million from the account but eventually returned it after the Vatican passed an anti-money-laundering law that went into effect last year.

Gotti Tedeschi has long called the investigation the result of a misunderstanding. Neither he nor the general director has been charged.

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