Roberto Calvi, who earned his nickname for his close ties to the Vatican Bank, was found hanged beneath Blackfriars Bridge in London amid strong suspicions that he was murdered.
Ayda Suarez Levy, the widow of a Bolivian druglord, claims that Calvi was laundering drug cartel money through an account in Nassau, in the Bahamas, on behalf of South American drug lords.
The Cocaine King sheds new light on Calvi’s death, which remains one of the Vatican’s darkest chapters and most contested mysteries. Mrs Levy, the widow of Roberto Suarez Gomez, claimed in an interview on Italian television on Monday that Mr Calvi was her husband’s “Italian contact”. “He said he could vouch for us,” she told Italy’s Channel Seven television.
“He said by vouching for us at such a high level, business would go well for us. I imagine he was talking about cocaine. He was not explicit but I imagine that is what it was about.”
Levy recounted an encounter involving her husband and Gunter Sachs, a multi-millionaire German playboy who was the third husband of Brigitte Bardot. She said that six months before Calvi’s death, she and her husband met Mr Sachs on a trip to Switzerland and they discussed the Italian banker.
Mr Sachs, who committed suicide in his Swiss chalet last year at the age of 78, reportedly told the Bolivian drug baron: “Calvi is very scared because Pablo Escobar wants his money back from the bank in Nassau.”
The Bahamas bank that he was referring to was an affiliate of Banco Ambrosiano, which was Italy’s biggest private bank when it collapsed in 1982. It was headed by Mr Calvi, who had close ties to the Vatican’s bank, formally known as the Istituto per le Opere di Religion – the Institute for Religious Works.
Calvi was a member of P2, an illegal Italian Masonic lodge. Calvi was found dead in London, after disappearing just before the corruption became public. His death was initially ruled suicide, and a second trial — ordered by his family — then returned an "open verdict".
The day before Calvi's corpse was discovered, his secretary also "committed suicide" by falling from a fourth floor office window at the bank's headquarters. A note was found which attacked Calvi for bringing the bank into disrepute.