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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who has been caught up in a proper estate scandal, speaks to the media a day after he resigned and gave up his just proper to steal segment in an eventual conclave to elect a pope, near the Vatican, in Rome, Italy

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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) -A basic Italian cardinal modified into amongst 10 other folks sent to trial within the Vatican on Saturday charged with financial crimes including embezzlement, money laundering, fraud, extortion and abuse of space of job.

Cardinal Angelo Becciu, formerly a senior legit within the Vatican administration, as wisely as two high officials on the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Unit will trek on trial on July 27 over a multi-million euro scandal curious the Vatican’s steal of a building in a single of London’s smartest districts.

The trial will inevitably ship a swirl of media hobby to the limited city-tell surrounded by Rome, and appears to underscore Pope Francis’ possibility to treatment the rot in Vatican funds, even supposing it entails messy public hearings.

Becciu, 73, whom the pope fired from his senior clerical post final yr for alleged nepotism, and who has constantly maintained his innocence within the course of a two-yr investigation, turns into the most senior Vatican legit to be charged with financial crimes.

The pope personally gave the the largest approval final week for Becciu to be indicted, in step with a 487-page indictment seek recordsdata from viewed by Reuters. The Vatican announced the indictments in a two-page assertion.

The prices against Becciu include embezzlement and abuse of space of job. An Italian woman who labored for him modified into charged with embezzlement and the cardinal’s historic secretary, a priest, modified into accused of extortion.

Becciu said in a assertion that he modified into a sufferer of a “machination” and reaffirmed his “absolute innocence”.

Two Italian brokers, Gianluigi Torzi and Raffaele Mincione, were charged with embezzlement, fraud and money laundering. Torzi, for whom Italian magistrates issued an arrest warrant in April, modified into also charged with extortion.

There modified into no prompt response to attempts to realize their lawyers, nevertheless both males hold constantly denied wrongdoing.

Four companies associated with particular person defendants, two in Switzerland, one within the United States and one in Slovenia, were also indicted, in step with the doc.

POLICE RAID

The investigation into the acquisition of the building grew to turn out to be public on Oct. 1, 2019, when Vatican police raided the offices of the Secretariat of Issue, the administrative coronary heart of the Catholic Church, and other folks of the Vatican’s Financial Records Authority (AIF).

The then-president of the AIF, Rene Bruelhart, a 48-yr-aged Swiss, and AIF’s historic Italian director, Tommaso Di Ruzza, 46, were charged with abuse of space of job for allegedly failing to adequately provide protection to the Vatican’s pursuits and giving Torzi what the indictment seek recordsdata from known as an “undue attend”.

Di Ruzza modified into also accused of embezzlement linked to alleged unfriendly spend of his legit bank card, and of divulging confidential recordsdata.

Bruelhart said in a text message that he had “constantly conducted my capabilities and duties with correctness” and that “the fact about my innocence will emerge.”

Di Ruzza failed to straight away reply to a voicemail soliciting for comment.

In 2014, the Secretariat of Issue invested larger than 200 million euros, powerful of it from contributions from the devoted, in a fund bustle by Mincione, securing about 45% of a commercial and residential building at 60 Sloane Avenue in London’s South Kensington district.

The indictment seek recordsdata from said Mincione had tried to deceive the Vatican, which in 2018 tried to entire the connection.

It turned to Torzi for back in buying up the the leisure of the building, nevertheless later accused him of extortion.

‘ENORMOUS LOSSES’

On the time, Becciu modified into within the final yr of his post as deputy secretary of tell for general affairs, an spectacular administrative space that handles many of of millions of euros.

All prompt, the Secretariat of Issue sank larger than 350 million euros into the Investment, in step with Vatican media, and suffered what Cardinal George Pell, the historic Vatican treasurer, prompt Reuters final yr were “huge losses”.

Torzi modified into arrested within the Vatican in June 2020, and spent per week in custody.

According to the indictment seek recordsdata from, Becciu is charged with 5 counts of embezzlement, two of abuse of space of job, and one depend of inducing a take into legend to perjury. About 75 pages of the doc are dedicated to Becciu.

It says Becciu tried to “carefully deflect” the inquiry into Vatican investments, including the London building, and tried to discredit the investigating magistrates throughout the Italian media.

Becciu persevered to hold affect over money transfers on the Secretariat even after he left the post, the doc said.

The essential prices against Becciu luxuriate in the alleged funnelling of cash and contracts to companies or charitable organisations controlled by his brothers on their native island of Sardinia.

Another Sardinian, Cecilia Maronga, 40, who labored for Becciu, modified into charged with embezzlement. Her cell phone modified into no longer linked.

The indictment seek recordsdata from said she had obtained about 575,000 euros from the Secretariat of Issue in 2018-2019.

She has said on Italian television that the money, sent to her firm in Slovenia, modified into to ransom kidnapped missionaries in Africa. However the indictment seek recordsdata from said powerful of it modified into outdated for “non-public attend”, including the acquisition of luxury goods.

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