Secretive Opus Dei honours banker who was cut up with a chainsaw

Opus Dei, the conservative Catholic organisation, has paid a rare and fulsome tribute to Gianmario Roveraro, an Italian banker who was found murdered last week, chopped into pieces beneath a motorway bridge.

The statement is as close as the group’s secretive policy allows to admitting that the pious financier was a member of the movement.

The kidnapping of Roveraro, whose remains were found on Friday after he was cut up with a chainsaw, has intensified the scrutiny of Opus Dei and echoed a scandal over the 1982 murder of Roberto Calvi, “God’s Banker”, who was found dead under Blackfriars Bridge in London. Calvi had had links to Opus Dei and was allegedly killed by the Sicilian mafia.

Opus Dei formally declined to confirm newspaper reports that he was a “supernumerary” or member.

However, Giuseppe Corigliano, its spokesman, said that Roveraro had “already received from God the reward for his many virtues”. These included “the courage to seek the truth, firmness in living the faith, dedication to his family, friends and anyone he came into contact with”.

Members of the organisation, which was portrayed by Dan Brown’s bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code as a sinister and conspiratorial group within the Catholic church, include Ruth Kelly, the communities and local government secretary, and Joaquin Navarro-Valls, a former papal spokesman.

As Roveraro’s three alleged killers were questioned this weekend, it emerged that investigators had come close to saving his life thanks to a coded reference he had made to his wife, which led police to the ringleader.

The softly spoken Roveraro, 70, who set an Italian record for the high jump in his youth, had earlier been questioned over allegations of fraud surrounding Parmalat, the food giant.

According to prosecutors, the alleged ringleader Filippo Botteri, 43, a financial consultant, is accused of kidnapping Roveraro on July 5 after an Opus Dei meeting and killing him.

Botteri’s motive was money, investigators said. Along with Roveraro, he had invested heavily in a supposedly low-risk financial deal involving an Austrian firm in 2003. Roveraro had pulled out of the transaction in time but Botteri, who had hoped to make a £7m profit, lost £1.7m.

Investigators came close to foiling the kidnappers and perhaps to saving Roveraro’s life when he telephoned his wife Silvana 24 hours after he was seized. “I’m in Austria, I’m fine, I’ll be back Friday or Saturday,” he told her.

Realising that her husband had never been to Austria for work reasons, Silvana told police that the only thing she could think of was the Austrian investment that her husband had made, adding that he had acted on the advice of Botteri.

Called in for questioning on July 15, Botteri said he knew nothing about Roveraro’s whereabouts but made no secret of his hostility towards him. “It’s true I bear Roveraro a big grudge, I believe he is responsible for my serious economic problems,” he told prosecutors.

Botteri allegedly forced Roveraro to give instructions to his office to hand over £7m. On July 17 the office received a fax bearing his signature and requesting a transfer of shares.

The signature was the last sign that he was alive. His body was found among bushes under a viaduct 20 miles outside Parma, half-hidden in a black rubbish bag. It was unrecognisable. He is believed to have been murdered a week ago after prosecutors froze his assets to stop any payment to the kidnappers.

Botteri, whom Roveraro first met in the early 1990s, reportedly confessed to investigators, telling them: “I lost my head. I know he’s dead but I don’t know how it happened. After the kidnapping I realised that I wouldn’t manage to get back the money so I killed him.”

Source

(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Sunday Times, UK
July 23, 2006
John Follain
www.timesonline.co.uk
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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday July 24, 2006.
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