By Paolo Biondi
ROME (Reuters) - Rome prosecutors are considering requesting that two directors of the Vatican bank who resigned on Monday be sent to trial on suspicion of authorizing illegal financial transactions, judicial sources said on Tuesday.
The Vatican bank's director general, Paolo Cipriani, and its deputy director, Massimo Tulli, left after the arrest of a senior cleric who is accused of plotting to smuggle 20 million euros ($26 million) into Italy from Switzerland.
A spokesman from the Vatican bank, known formally as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), declined to comment. Reuters was unable to reach the two men concerned.
Neither has been accused of wrongdoing although police wiretap transcripts contained in magistrates' evidence showed contacts between Tulli and Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, the senior cleric who was arrested last week.
The resignation of the two managers added to the problems surrounding the IOR, which has been a byword for opaque and secretive dealings for decades and whose future has been in question since the appointment of Pope Francis in March.
The Scarano arrest came soon after Francis's appointment of a special committee of inquiry to get to grips with the problems at the bank and recommend changes.
Scarano is accused along with a secret service agent and a financial broker of conspiring to smuggle millions of euros for a family of shipbuilders in his home town of Salerno, near Naples in southern Italy.
Scarano's lawyer has said that rich friends donated money to the cleric so he could build a home for the terminally ill.
Although no evidence has emerged that could link the IOR directly to the charges facing Scarano, the bank is already caught up in an investigation into suspected money laundering which eventually led investigators to him.
The judicial sources said the prosecutors were preparing to conclude their money laundering investigation and are expected to drop inquiries connected to Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, the former head of the IOR, who was dismissed last year.
In 2010, officials froze 23 million euros of the bank's funds in Italian banks as part of the money laundering investigation.
Pope Francis, who has shunned many of the normal trappings of his office and called for a return to simplicity and humility in the Church, has laid great emphasis on cleaning up the IOR.
(Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)