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Five U.S. states file suit against Vatican. (Nation).

The insurance commissioners of Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas filed a lawsuit in federal court May 9 accusing the Vatican and Msgr. Emilio Colagiovanni of racketeering and fraud.

The Vatican, in response, denied all involvement in the fraud scheme run by Martin Frankel, a financier now in jail. Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls also said May 15 that the Vatican had given "the information it had to the attorney general of the state of Mississippi."

The lawsuit claims that Frankel, awaiting trial on charges of racketeering, fraud and conspiracy for bilking more than $200 million from insurance companies (NCR, Sept. 14, 2001), was aided by Colagiovanni and by the Holy See in purchasing the companies.

Frankel's lawyer said May 15 that he would plead guilty to racketeering, conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud.

Colagiovanni, 82, a retired judge of a Vatican court, was arrested in Cleveland in 2001 on charges of wire fraud. He is awaiting trial.

The commissioners and prosecutors in the multiple lawsuits have claimed that Frankel bought small, ailing insurance companies and set up false insurance companies, then siphoned off the companies' assets, leaving them unable to pay claims.

The suits against Colagiovanni and the Vatican claim they helped Frankel purchase companies through charitable foundations and with a letter claiming the Vatican had given funding to Frankel's St. Francis of Assisi Foundation.

Navarro-Valls said May 15 the foundation has no connection to the Vatican.
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Title Annotation:fraud litigation
Author:Donovan, Gill
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 24, 2002
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