Lester A. Myers
Banco Ambrosiano, Italy's second-largest private bank, collapsed in 1982 when it became unable to collect approximately $1.3 billion in loans to foreign shell companies with ties to the Vatican Bank. The scandal disrupted financial markets, damaged the Vatican's reputation, and led to the downfall of the bank's chair, Roberto Calvi, and other senior business and government leaders. In 1896, Giuseppe Tovini from Valle Camonica in eastern Lombardy founded Banco Ambrosiano in Milan under the patronage of Saint Ambrose, the 4th-century archbishop of the city. Its mission was to offer a Catholic alternative to secular banking by focusing on stakeholders with religious, charitable, and other social missions. Its leadership maintained close ties with the Catholic Church. By the mid-20th century, the bank had expanded internationally, including the establishment in 1963 of Banco Ambrosiano Holding in Luxembourg under senior manager (and later chair) Carlo Canesi. Canesi recruited Calvi into bank leadership in ...