The Vatican has taken unprecedented measures to try an incumbent cardinal to face allegations of financial corruption related to the use of Catholic charity funds to invest in luxury London houses.
The indictment of Giovanni Angelo Becciu marks the dramatic acceleration of Pope Francis, who until last year was the cardinal overseeing the institution responsible for the selection of Catholic saints Motivation for reform After decades of controversy, the financial situation of the Holy See.
The Vatican stated that the trial will begin this month. This is the first time in modern Catholic history that a cardinal has faced financial crime charges. Before Pope Francis forced him to resign from the senior clerical position last year, Becky was one of the most powerful people in the Holy See, a process that made Becky the nominal cardinal.
Four other current or former Vatican officials and five external consultants, including two London businessmen Gianluigi Torzi and Raffaele Mincione, have also been charged with various charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and abuse of power.
The allegations made by the Vatican in a cooperative investigation with the Italian Financial Police on Saturday are related to a series of complex financial investments supervised by Becciu, including Buy large buildings In the Chelsea district of London.
Pope Francis took a much stronger stance than his predecessors in eliminating financial corruption within the Vatican, and has overhauled the way the Catholic Church manages its investments.
Prior to his appointment as Cardinal in 2018, Becky was the second in command of the Vatican’s powerful internal bureaucracy, and the State Secretariat was responsible for managing the so-called Peter Pence charitable donations made by believers to the Catholic Church. Last year Pope Francis, Deprived the secretariat Its control of these funds.
After announcing the charges and trial, Becky said that he denied any wrongdoing and welcomed the opportunity to clean himself up.
Becky said in a statement: “I am a victim of a conspiracy against me. I have been waiting for a long time to know any accusations against me, so that I can deny it in time and prove to the world that I am absolutely innocent. .” Through his lawyer.
The Vatican stated that it made the allegations after an internal investigation that began in July 2019, and has since been involved in cooperation with the Italian Financial Police and the Rome Prosecutor’s Office, as well as requests for assistance from other countries such as the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. .
The Vatican stated that these investigations “revealed a huge network of relationships with financial market operators, which have caused significant losses to the Vatican’s finances and also used resources for the Pope’s personal charitable work”.
The core of this case is the Vatican’s investment in a luxury real estate development project in London called 60 Sloane Avenue in Chelsea, which is managed by Athena Capital, a Luxembourg fund founded by Mincione, on behalf of the Vatican.
The property was sold directly to the Vatican by Mincione in 2018, and the transaction was facilitated by Torzi, Mincione’s business partner. In that transaction, the Vatican accused Torzi of extorting money from the Holy See, and the transaction caused huge losses to the Catholic Church.
Torzi, an Italian businessman based in London, was arrested in the UK at the request of the Vatican and Italian authorities earlier this year. He denied any wrongdoing.
Mincione, a former Italian banker living in the UK, also denied any wrongdoing. Last year, he began to file legal proceedings against the Vatican in a British court, seeking a ruling that he and his company have always acted correctly and in good faith in their dealings with the Vatican. When the Financial Times contacted Mincione and his legal representative, he did not respond to a request for comment.