Five Vatican employees, including the number two at the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority and a senior member of clergy, have been suspended following a police raid, the Italian magazine L’Espresso reports.
The scandal, affecting two departments at the heart of the Vatican, was the first after several years of relative calm in which reforms enacted by Pope Francis appeared to be taking root.
A Vatican spokesman said he had no immediate comment on the report.
On its website, L’Espresso published a picture of a police notice to guards at Vatican gates telling them not to allow in the five employees because they had been suspended.
The notice included photographs of the five, one of whom is a woman.
The people whose pictures were on the notice included Tommaso Di Ruzza, the director of the Financial Information Authority (AIF), and Monsignor Mauro Carlino, the head of documentation at the Secretariat of State.
The other three held minor roles in the Secretariat of State, the key department in the Vatican’s central administration.
Calls to Di Ruzza’s cell phone went unanswered. Reuters was not immediately able to contact the other officials.
A senior Vatican source said he was aware of the suspension of four employees from the Secretariat of State but not of Di Ruzza’s suspension.
Vatican police raided both offices on Tuesday and seized documents and electronic devices as part of an investigation of suspected financial irregularities.
MPmania reports that the Tuesday raid is believed to be the first time the two departments were searched for evidence involving alleged financial crimes.
The Secretariat of State, the most powerful department in the Vatican, is the nerve centre of its bureaucracy and diplomacy and the administrative heart of the worldwide Catholic Church.
The AIF, headed by Swiss lawyer Rene Bruelhart, Di Ruzza’s boss, is the financial controller, with authority over all Vatican departments.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Vatican said the operation was a follow-up to complaints filed in the summer by the Vatican bank and the Office of the Auditor General and were related to “financial operations carried out over the course of time”.