Ex-Vatican bank head linked to Finmeccanica probe

NAPLES Tue Jun 5, 2012 6:53am EDT

Former head of the Vatican bank IOR Ettore Gotti Tedeschi speaks during the presentation of his new book ''The Economic Reasons'' in downtown Rome February 22, 2012. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (ITALY - Tags: BUSINESS)

Former head of the Vatican bank IOR Ettore Gotti Tedeschi speaks during the presentation of his new book ''The Economic Reasons'' in downtown Rome February 22, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi (ITALY - Tags: BUSINESS)

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NAPLES (Reuters) - Homes belonging to Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, the former head of the Vatican's bank, were searched by Italian police in connection with a corruption probe into defense technology group Finmeccanica, Naples prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Gotti Tedeschi was ousted from his position at the head of the bank last month after the board passed a motion of no-confidence, accusing him of neglecting his basic management responsibilities.

Acting Naples chief prosecutor Alessandro Pennasilico said on Tuesday the police search was not related to Gotti Tedeschi's time at the bank and he has not been placed under investigation.

"This has nothing to do with IOR," Pennasilico said, using the Italian initials for the Vatican bank, which is formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion.

Finmeccanica is entangled in a corruption probe linked to an Indian helicopter contract and allegations of kickbacks to the Northern League, a party in the centre-right coalition government of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Pennasilico said police searched Gotti Tedeschi's residences in the northern cities of Piacenza and Milan after investigators turned up a number of contacts between him and individuals targeted in the Finmeccanica investigation.

They believed Gotti Tedeschi may be in possession of documents relevant to the case.

Finmeccanica's chief executive Giuseppe Orsi, the former head of the group's helicopter unit, has been placed under investigation for suspected international corruption and money laundering.

Gotti Tedeschi sits on the board of state development agency Cassa depositi e prestiti and is chairman of the Italian retail banking operations of Spain's Banca Santander. He was an adviser to Giulio Tremonti, economy minister in Berlusconi's last government.

(Reporting By Laura Viggiano; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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