Scandals / Banking / Italy

Tosches, Nick. Power on Earth. New York: Arbor House, 1986. 290 pages.

DiFonzo, Luigi. St.Peter's Banker. New York: Franklin Watts, 1983. 308 pages.

Cornwell, Rupert. God's Banker. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1983. 260 pages.

Gurwin, Larry. The Calvi Affair. London: Pan Books, 1984. 251 pages.

Four books in NameBase describe the 1970s Italian banking scandals: "Power on Earth" by Nick Tosches, "St.Peter's Banker" by Luigi DiFonzo, "God's Banker" by Rupert Cornwell, and "The Calvi Affair" by Larry Gurwin. The first two are about Michele Sindona, the last two about Roberto Calvi.

These scandals involved Sindona, Calvi, Pope Paul VI, Bishop Paul Marcinkus and the Vatican Bank, the Mafia, Licio Gelli and the P2 Lodge, Franklin National Bank, Banco Ambrosiano, and shell companies too numerous to mention. It's a story of international high finance and lavish lifestyles that Hollywood might reject as unrealistic: bank shares traded like baseball cards, blood oaths and secret P2 membership lists, Mafia hits, Italian intelligence agencies, terrorists, arms dealers, corruption at the highest levels, and even a faked kidnapping.

Sindona's empire was collapsing by 1974, and his protege Calvi's by 1978. In 1980 Sindona was convicted in the U.S. on 65 counts of fraud and was extradited to Italy in 1984, where two years later he was poisoned in his cell while serving a life sentence for murder. Calvi was convicted by an Italian court in 1981 of illegal currency transactions. He was found hanging from a London bridge the following year, possibly murdered, and $400 million is still missing.

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