Roberto Calvi's Trial: Suicide or Murder?

Welcome to the Roberto Calvi Trial website! 

Objective Statement:

Our project aims to investigate the Roberto Calvi Trial and examine the details of the case both before and after his death. We will gain clarity on how and why the court ruling shifted to murder after being ruled suicide 20 years prior.

Research Questions:

To better guide our analysis, we have developed three research questions to ensure we are covering all aspects of the trial. 

  1. How was Calvi’s death ruled as murder and not suicide?
  2. How did public sentiment change over time? How did people’s opinions regarding the trial and/or Roberto change over time?
  3. What was the motivation of Roberto Calvi’s murder? 

With regards to the first question, we will be focusing more on the forensic evidence that have made it distinctly clear that Roberto Calvi was murdered. The second question refers to the overall public sentiment over time. We wanted to examine the correlation between key events or the release of certain information and how that has influenced the general public's perception of Roberto Calvi's death. The last question provides additional background with regards to the main characters of the story. For example, it is a deeper insight into the relationships between Calvi and the Vatican and Mafia, who are two main suspects of the trial.

About the Trial:

Roberto Calvi was Italy’s most powerful private banker. He joined Banco Ambrosiano as a clerk when the company was a risk-adverse institution. Calvi climbed his way up to President of the Bank where he acquired many more banks and off shore accounts. Due to his role, Calvi forged close ties with Archbishop Paul Marcinkus (the chairman of the Vatican’s Institute for Religious Works (IOR)), who holds the bank accounts of priests, bishops, cardinals and the Pope, and was a secretive, major shareholder of Banco Ambrosiano.

Timeline of Events Leading up to Calvi's death:

  • 1977: A situation happened between Marcinkus and one of his connections, Sindona, where Sindona’s empire collapsed, and he was being jailed for conspiracy and fraud. Sindona publicly accused Calvi’s Banco Ambrosiano of irregularities as an act of revenge because he was denied funds to save his failing bank.
  • 1981: Sindon’s tip prompted an investigation which led Calvi’s arrest. He stood on trial on charges of illegal currency dealings concerning the equivalent of $50 million worth of foreign transactions. When he was in prison awaiting trial, he attempted to kill himself and insisted he was innocent. He filed for an appeal and was released while awaiting a new trial on June 21st 1982.
  • 1982: Italy's central bank pressured Calvi to account for the bank’s nine-figure debt but he was unsuccessful so he turned to Falvio Carboni who smuggled him to London. London wasn’t his final destination because he told his wife and daughter to meet him in Washington DC.
    • June 17, 1982: Bank’s board voted to remove the missing Calvi as president and dissolve itself & Calvi’s long term secretary fell to her death through the Bank’s window (ruled a suicide)
    • June 18, 1982: Calvi’s body was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge