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Mali Archbishop to be Elevated to Cardinal Despite Scandal Rumors

FILE - Archbishop of Bamako, Jean Zerbo, celebrates communion in the town of Kita in western Mali, Nov. 17, 2012.

The Vatican says an archbishop from Mali will be appointed a cardinal in Rome on Wednesday despite a potential financial scandal.

There was speculation in Mali and Rome that Pope Francis had decided not to elevate Archbishop Jean Zerbo because of questions surrounding church funds in Mali. But Vatican officials confirmed Tuesday that Zerbo will be present at Wednesday's ceremony along with candidates from four other countries.

Reports say Zerbo and other Malian church officials have opened more than $13 million in Swiss bank accounts.

While opening foreign bank accounts is legal, it is unclear where the money came from.

Another Malian bishop told The Associated Press that Zerbo and other prelates have "nothing to hide," but he declined to provide additional information.

Zerbo helped negotiate the 2015 peace agreement between the Malian government and Tuareg rebels.

He is one of the highest-ranking Christians in Mali, where the population is overwhelmingly Muslim.

The other cardinals being appointed Wednesday are from El Salvador, Laos, Spain and Sweden.