Crime Scene Photography · England

“God’s banker,” a bank chairman with ties to the Vatican and the Mafia, is found hanging from a bridge

June 18, 1982
London, England
The body of “God’s banker” Roberto Calvi is discovered hanging from the scaffolding beneath Blackfriars Bridge

Calvi had been a chairman of the second largest private bank in Italy and so had ties to the Vatican, the Mafia, and the Masons. Calvi and several others in prominent positions participated in a scandal involving illegal money transfers, leading to the bank’s eventual collapsed. Calvi attempted suicide while serving a brief time in jail (his family maintains he was innocent of the crimes and his suicide attempt was coerced to frame him). Also, a financier who was also involved in the scandal died in prison after drinking coffee poisoned with cyanide, either as a suicide or an assassination.

June 17, the day Calvi died, was also the day his private secretary died from falling from a 5th floor window. She left an angry note blaming Calvi for the collapse of the bank and ruining the lives of the bank employees. Her death was ruled suicide.

Calvi’s body was discovered July 18 with bricks and approximately $15,000 of currency from three countries in his pockets. Two exams were carried out on Calvi’s body in the ’80s, one determining his death was suicide. The other stated a conclusion could not be formed as to whether the death had been murder or suicide. In 2002, a German team reexamined the crime and found Calvi had not touched the bricks in his pockets, the wounds on his neck were inconsistent with being hanged, and the absence of rust or paint from Calvi’s shoes suggested he did not walk on the scaffolding to hang himself.

With the official cause of death determined to be murder, Calvi’s family has been able to settle his life insurance claim of $10 million. An investigation accused several individuals of murdering Calvi, but little evidence could be provided against any. Acquittals, charges being dropped, and being cleared due to lack of evidence lead to all suspects being released. (The “lack of evidence” was determined after 20 months of evidence was provided, though, presumably, the evidence did not point to a specific individual or individuals.) Calvi’s death remains unsolved.

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