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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 18:42 GMT
Ban looms over Vatican bank movie
God's Bankers was released earlier this month
God's Bankers was released earlier this month
A film based on Italy's bank scandal, which spread all the way to the Vatican during the 1980s, could be pulled from cinemas over claims it slanders an Italian businessman.

God's Bankers (I Banchieri Di Dio) is based on the death of financier Roberto Calvi, who was found hanged from a London bridge in 1982.

But lawyers for businessman Flavio Carboni says the film is "harmful" to his reputation.

Judge Marzia Cruciani said she will put a temporary ban on the film - provided that Mr Carboni puts up a 1.5m euro (919,000) deposit to cover the movie's losses in case her eventual ruling rejects his case.

Calvi's body was found at Blackfriars Bridge
Calvi's body was found at Blackfriars Bridge
The movie was released earlier this month and stars Rutger Hauer.

God's Bankers, directed by Giuseppe Ferrara, suggests the Vatican was involved in a huge conspiracy involving drug-dealing Mafiosi, corrupt bankers and politicians, arms dealers and Freemasons.

The events leading up to the death of Calvi are less than clear.

In 1981, Calvi, head of the Banco Ambrosiano, was jailed for four years and fined $11.7m (8.2m) for illegally exporting currency.

But he was freed on bail pending an appeal.

The film claims that Calvi turned to the Vatican's Archbishop Marcinkus for support and was allegedly given a guarantee that the debts would be covered.

But early in 1982, interest rates rose and the dollar soared in relation to the Italian lire, pushing the Banco Ambrosiano to the brink of collapse.

The Vatican admitted moral involvement in scandal
The Vatican admitted moral involvement in scandal
The bank ran up huge debts and on 18 June 1982, Calvi was found hanged from a scaffold under Blackfriars Bridge, his pockets full of bricks.

The City of London coroner recorded a verdict of suicide, although this was later overturned by the High Court, and a second inquest in 1983 recorded an open verdict.

Two months after Calvi's death the Banco Ambrosiano collapsed.

The Vatican refused to admit legal responsibility for the bank's downfall but did acknowledge "moral involvement", and paid $241m (169m) to creditors.

See also:

25 Jun 98 | Europe
'God's banker' to be exhumed
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