October 22, 2021

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Cardinal among 10 indicted by Vatican for financial crimes

  • Pope accepted go against cardinal, who states he is harmless
  • Former head of Vatican Money Intelligence denies rates
  • Becciu most senior Vatican formal charged with economic criminal offense
  • Trial to start out July 27

VATICAN Town, July 3 (Reuters) – A distinguished Italian cardinal was between 10 folks sent to demo in the Vatican on Saturday billed with economical crimes such as embezzlement, dollars laundering, fraud, extortion and abuse of office environment.

Cardinal Angelo Becciu, previously a senior official in the Vatican administration, as nicely as two prime officials at the Vatican’s Economic Intelligence Unit will go on trial on July 27 in excess of a multi-million euro scandal involving the Vatican’s invest in of a constructing in just one of London’s smartest districts.

The demo will inevitably convey a swirl of media desire to the small city-state surrounded by Rome, and seems to underscore Pope Francis’ determination to treatment the rot in Vatican finances, even if it consists of messy general public hearings.

Becciu, 73, whom the pope fired from his senior clerical publish very last 12 months for alleged nepotism, and who has generally preserved his innocence during a two-year investigation, becomes the most senior Vatican formal to be charged with monetary crimes.

The pope individually gave the needed acceptance last 7 days for Becciu to be indicted, according to a 487-website page indictment ask for found by Reuters. The Vatican introduced the indictments in a two-website page statement.

The rates towards Becciu contain embezzlement and abuse of office. An Italian girl who worked for him was billed with embezzlement and the cardinal’s previous secretary, Father Mauro Carlino, was accused of extortion.

Becciu said in a statement that he was a sufferer of a “machination” and reaffirmed his “absolute innocence”.

Carlino’s law firm mentioned his customer was innocent, experienced been “performing underneath orders”, and had saved the Vatican thousands and thousands of euros. He explained beginning a demo so soon did not give defence legal professionals ample time to prepare.

Two Italian brokers, Gianluigi Torzi and Raffaele Mincione, have been billed with embezzlement, fraud and dollars laundering. Torzi, for whom Italian magistrates issued an arrest warrant in April, was also billed with extortion.

There was no immediate reaction to attempts to attain their lawyers, but equally gentlemen have constantly denied wrongdoing.

Four businesses connected with unique defendants, two in Switzerland, just one in the United States and 1 in Slovenia, ended up also indicted, according to the doc.

Police RAID

The investigation into the buy of the building grew to become general public on Oct. 1, 2019, when Vatican police raided the places of work of the Secretariat of State, the administrative coronary heart of the Catholic Church, and individuals of the Vatican’s Monetary Information and facts Authority (AIF).

The then-president of the AIF, Rene Bruelhart, a 48-year-previous Swiss, and AIF’s former Italian director, Tommaso Di Ruzza, 46, have been charged with abuse of office environment for allegedly failing to adequately secure the Vatican’s interests and giving Torzi what the indictment ask for known as an “undue gain”.

Di Ruzza was also accused of embezzlement similar to alleged inappropriate use of his formal credit score card, and of divulging private details.

Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who has been caught up in a true estate scandal, speaks to the media a day after he resigned quickly and gave up his suitable to acquire part in an eventual conclave to elect a pope, near the Vatican, in Rome, Italy, September 25, 2020. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

Bruelhart mentioned in a text concept that he had “usually carried out my features and duties with correctness” and that “the truth of the matter about my innocence will arise”.

Di Ruzza did not instantly reply to a voicemail requesting remark.

In 2014, the Secretariat of State invested a lot more than 200 million euros, considerably of it from contributions from the trustworthy, in a fund run by Mincione, securing about 45% of a business and household creating at 60 Sloane Avenue in London’s South Kensington district.

The indictment request stated Mincione experienced tried to deceive the Vatican, which in 2018 attempted to end the connection.

It turned to Torzi for help in obtaining up the relaxation of the making, but later on accused him of extortion.

‘ENORMOUS LOSSES’

At the time, Becciu was in the last year of his article as deputy secretary of point out for normal affairs, a strong administrative placement that handles hundreds of tens of millions of euros.

All told, the Secretariat of Condition sank additional than 350 million euros into the financial commitment, according to Vatican media, and experienced what Cardinal George Pell, the previous Vatican treasurer, informed Reuters very last yr have been “monumental losses”.

Torzi was arrested in the Vatican in June 2020, and used a week in custody.

In accordance to the indictment request, Becciu is charged with 5 counts of embezzlement, two of abuse of workplace, and one depend of inducing a witness to perjury. About 75 webpages of the document are committed to Becciu.

It suggests Becciu tried out to “seriously deflect” the inquiry into Vatican investments, like the London setting up, and experimented with to discredit the investigating magistrates by means of the Italian media.

Becciu ongoing to have impact around funds transfers at the Secretariat even following he left the write-up, the document said.

The major prices towards Becciu contain the alleged funnelling of income and contracts to companies or charitable organisations controlled by his brothers on their indigenous island of Sardinia.

Another Sardinian, Cecilia Marogna, 40, who labored for Becciu, was billed with embezzlement. Her cellphone was not linked.

The indictment ask for reported she had been given about 575,000 euros from the Secretariat of Condition in 2018-2019.

She has said on Italian television that the revenue, sent to her organization in Slovenia, was to ransom kidnapped missionaries in Africa. But the indictment request explained significantly of it was utilized for “individual advantage”, such as the obtain of luxurious products.

Further reporting by Elvira Pollina in Milan Modifying by Kevin Liffey

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