I have support of Vatican, says cardinal accused of corruption

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The Independent Online

An italian cardinal, caught up in a vast corruption probe that has already tainted the government, said he had done nothing wrong and had the support of the Vatican.

"I did everything with the utmost transparency," said Cardinal Cresenzio Sepe, the archbishop of Naples, who is under investigation by Italian magistrates for questionable real estate transactions when he was a top Vatican official in 2005.

Sepe, 67, is being investigated for alleged corruption when he was running the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, a cash-and-real-estate-rich department of the Vatican that finances the work of missions abroad.

Sepe, who ran the department until he was moved to Naples in 2006, is suspected of aggravated corruption with Pietro Lunardi, then infrastructure and transport minister in the centre-right government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

"I have always acted in good conscience, my only aim was the good of the Church," he told a news conference. The magistrates say Lunardi bought a building in Rome from Sepe's department in 2004 at a price well below market value.

But Sepe said the price of the building was affected by the fact that it was in extremely bad condition and his department could not afford to fix it. Sepe said only after the decision to sell was made did he learn that Lunardi had taken an interest in buying it.