Vatican monsignor questioned in corruption plot

An undated photo of Monsignor Nunzio Scarano in Salerno, Italy. A Vatican official already under investigation in a purported money-laundering plot involving the Vatican bank was arrested Friday, June 28, 2013, in a separate operation: Prosecutors allege he tried to bring 20 million euros ($26 million) in cash into Italy from Switzerland aboard an Italian government plane, his lawyer said. Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a recently suspended accountant in one of the Vatican's main financial departments, is accused of fraud, corruption and slander stemming from the plot, which never got off the ground, attorney Silverio Sica told The Associated Press. He said Scarano was a middleman in the operation: Friends had asked him to intervene with a broker, Giovanni Carenzio, to return 20 million euros they had given him to invest. Sica said Scarano persuaded Carenzio to return the money, and an Italian secret service agent, Giovanni Maria Zito, went to Switzerland to bring the cash back aboard an Italian government aircraft. Such a move would presumably prevent any reporting of the money coming into Italy. The operation failed because Carenzio reneged on the deal, Sica said. (AP Photo/Francesco Pecoraro)

ROME (AP) — A Vatican monsignor arrested in a 20 million euro ($26 million) corruption plot has been questioned by Italian magistrates for the first time and has asked for house arrest.

Attorney Silverio Sica says Monsignor Nunzio Scarano is not well at Rome's Regina Coeli prison and wants to await a decision on his fate at home.

Scarano was interrogated for some three hours on Monday by Judge Barbara Callari, who must decide whether to confirm his arrest.

Scarano was arrested Friday with two other people in an elaborate plot to bring 20 million euro from a Swiss bank account into Italy without reporting it to customs officials.

Sica said Scarano "recognized it wasn't licit," but acted to help out his friends.

Prosecutors have identified the friends as Italy's d'Amico shipping family.