Vatican Trial Begins with Financial Scandal Locking Pathy


Vatican City — A cardinal allegedly inducing his men to lie to the prosecutor. A broker and lawyer who pulled a fast one over Vatican No. 2 to get him to approve a disastrous real estate transaction. A self-proclaimed intelligence analyst who bought Prada and Louis Vuitton items with Vatican money that was supposed to send Catholic nuns to hostage rebels.

Vatican prosecutors alleged a staggering series of scandals at the Vatican’s largest criminal justice in modern history, held in court at the Vatican Museums on Tuesday. The once-powerful Cardinal and nine others accuse the Holy See of bleeding with tens of millions of dollars donated by bad investments, dealings with dubious money managers, and obvious benefits to friends and family. It has been. If convicted, they face imprisonment, fines, or both.

The trial, which is likely to be postponed for months after the first hearing on Tuesday and Wednesday, is a two-year trial against a € 350 million ($ 421 million) London real estate venture with a flawed Holy See. It is the culmination of the survey. The operation exposes the Vatican’s once secret financial transactions and its structural dysfunction, which allows only a few people to do significant damage to the Vatican’s finances and reputation with little expertise or oversight. Did.

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St. Peter’s Basilica is silhouetted at dusk in the Vatican City on June 29, 2017. (Riccardo Delka / AP photo)

However, the prosecutor’s case also explicitly approved Pope Francis and his Lieutenant Lieutenant, not only knowing some important deals, but also without understanding the full documentation and details. It also suggests that. Given the hierarchical nature of the Holy See and the obedience required of their subordinates to their religious bosses, the question remains as to why some were prosecuted and others were not.

Vatican Monsignor and Monsignor Alberto Perasca, who until recently were considered the main suspects by prosecutors, were able to avoid prosecution. The Perasca office processed the investment in London from start to finish, and his boss identified him as the main in-house criminal who masked the costly consequences of the transaction. However, prosecutors suggested that Perasca had turned over and became an important witness. This may have been after pressure to withdraw the testimony of Angelo Bechiu, the only cardinal in the trial.

Francis, who exercises the highest legislative, executive and judicial powers in the Vatican City as an absolute monarch, has already convicted Bechiu in many respects.

Last year, Francis presented Bechiu with evidence that he had sent € 100,000 ($ 118,000) in Vatican funding to a Sardinian charity run by the Bechiu brothers. Francis secured Bechiu’s resignation as head of the Vatican’s saintship and then deprived him of his rights as a cardinal, a sanction immediately announced by the Vatican press.

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Cardinal Angelo Bechiu will speak with journalists at a press conference in Rome on September 25, 2020. (Gregorio Borgia / AP photo)

Becciu, charged with embezzlement and urging Perlasca to withdraw, denied any misconduct.

Bechiu, a former White House Chief of Staff of the Vatican State Department, is also associated with Cecilia Marogna, a mysterious person also being tried, hired as an outside security consultant in 2016. Prosecutors allege that Marogna embezzled € 575,000 ($ 678,000) into Vatican funds and that Bechiu demanded a ransom to release the Catholic hostages. Bank records from her Slovenian front desk show that Vatican wire transfers were used instead to pay bills at luxury stores and boutique hotels. Marogna says the money was a legitimate compensation and reimbursement for her intelligence-related costs.

London real estate transactions date back to 2014, and the Vatican State Department has decided to invest the first € 200 million ($ 236 million) in a fund run by Italian businessman Raffaele Mincione. investment.

By November 2018, the initial investment had lost 18 million euros ($ 21 million), and the Vatican City sought an exit strategy while maintaining a stake in a building in London’s fashionable Chelsea district, according to prosecutors. I was prompted to do it.

Enter another broker, Gianluigi Torzi, who helped arrange the payment of € 40 million ($ 47 million) to Mincione.

However, prosecutors say that Tolji obscured the Holy See by secretly rebuilding 1,000 shares of the property’s new holding company in a way that gives it full voting rights. According to prosecutors, Torzi extorted the Vatican for € 15 million ($ 17.7 million) and dominated a building he believed he had already acquired.

Mincione and Torgi, accused of fraud, money laundering, embezzlement and other charges, denied cheating.

Archbishop Edgar Penha Para, the successor to Bechiu, lost as much money as possible for Francis to finally take ownership of the building and “turn the page and start over” by November 2018. He told the prosecutor that he had revealed what he wanted. Penhapara told the prosecutor that it was a message Francis repeated to Torgi himself during the January 2019 meeting.

Realizing that Torgi actually dominates the building, Penhapara said the Vatican had two options, based on Francis’ desire to move forward. They were to sue him or pay him the voting rights of 1,000 shares he owned. Penha Para said the Vatican’s concerns could take years to sue him and even end in Torgi’s favor.

“Between these two options, with the advice of lawyers and experts, Option 2 was chosen because it is a more economical, less risky and more manageable time frame. “It was thought out,” Penhapara wrote in a testimony seen by the Associated Press. press.

Still, the payment of € 15 million ($ 17.7 million) to Torzi is central to the case. Prosecutors have accused Torji of forcing the Vatican for money and that the Vatican’s financial watchdog did not stop the deal. Supervisors say the Vatican had no choice but to pay Torzi, given that the State Department had signed a legally binding contract giving Torzi control of the building.

The prosecution was tricked by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin into drafting a one-page memo describing the deal, but by a lawyer who omitted important details, including Tolji’s voting rights, to approve Tolji’s contract. Say it. Penha Para said the Vatican later realized that the lawyer had something to do with Torgi. Penha Para, citing Palolyn’s own notes, said the Cardinal approved the deal based on a brief note and guarantee from a lawyer from Penha and another Vatican money manager, Fabrizio Tirabassi.

Palorin, Penhapara and Perasca were not charged. Tirabassi has been charged with corruption, blackmail, embezzlement, fraud, and abuse of authority. He denies cheating.

Nicole Winfield