Monsignor Nunzio Scarano
Monsignor Nunzio Scarano was recently arrested for corruption charges after allegedly trying to bring back a huge sum of money aboard a government plane from Switzerland.

A Vatican cleric nicknamed Monsignor 500 for his habit of flashing huge amounts of cash has been re-arrested for allegedly faking donations to cover a money-laundering operation.

Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, who worked as an accountant in the Vatican's financial administration, was originally arrested for trying to take €20m (£17m) in cash into Italy from Switzerland aboard a government plane.

The new charges on the 61-year-old, who is under house arrest because of his ailing health, stem from a separate money-laundering investigation. Monsignor 500 allegedly planned a series of false donations with the purpose of covering up movements of cash worth up to €2m (£1.6m).

Scarano's lawyer told reporters that the former Vatican official had been "profoundly disturbed" by the new charges.

In the original investigation, Scarano was accused of fraud, corruption and slander along with Italian secret service agent Giovanni Maria Zito and a financial broker, Giovanni Carinzo.

The cleric was asked by some "friends" to work with Carinzo, the broker, to return €20m that they had given him to invest. The identity of these friends is still unknown, according to police sources.

Scarano persuaded Carinzo to return the money with the help of Zito. The secret service agent went to Switzerland to bring the cash back aboard a government aicraft, in order to prevent any reporting of the mission in Italy.

When the job was complete, Zito demanded his €400,000 commission. Scarano paid an initial €200,000 by cheque. But in a clumsy attempt to prevent the second installment of the commission being deposited, the monsignor filed a report for a missing €200,000 cheque. It is unclear why he wished to prevent the deposit.

After filing the report, Scarano was arrested by Italian financial police.

The monsignor had also been under investigation by magistrates in the southern Italian city of Salerno, his home town, for a suspected money-laundering plot involving the Vatican's bank, the Institute of Religious Work (IOR).