- Pope authorised transfer towards cardinal, who says he’s harmless
- Former head of Vatican Monetary Intelligence denies costs
- Becciu most senior Vatican official charged with monetary crime
- Trial to start out July 27
VATICAN CITY, July 3 (Reuters) – A outstanding Italian cardinal was amongst 10 folks despatched to trial within the Vatican on Saturday charged with monetary crimes together with embezzlement, cash laundering, fraud, extortion and abuse of workplace.
Cardinal Angelo Becciu, previously a senior official within the Vatican administration, in addition to two high officers on the Vatican’s Monetary Intelligence Unit will go on trial on July 27 over a multi-million euro scandal involving the Vatican’s buy of a constructing in one among London’s smartest districts.
The trial will inevitably convey a swirl of media curiosity to the tiny city-state surrounded by Rome, and seems to underscore Pope Francis’ dedication to remedy the rot in Vatican funds, even when it includes messy public hearings.
Becciu, 73, whom the pope fired from his senior clerical publish final yr for alleged nepotism, and who has all the time maintained his innocence throughout a two-year investigation, turns into probably the most senior Vatican official to be charged with monetary crimes.
The pope personally gave the required approval final week for Becciu to be indicted, in line with a 487-page indictment request seen by Reuters. The Vatican introduced the indictments in a two-page assertion.
The fees towards Becciu embody embezzlement and abuse of workplace. An Italian girl who labored for him was charged with embezzlement and the cardinal’s former secretary, Father Mauro Carlino, was accused of extortion.
Becciu mentioned in an announcement that he was a sufferer of a “machination” and reaffirmed his “absolute innocence”.
Carlino’s lawyer mentioned his shopper was harmless, had been “performing underneath orders”, and had saved the Vatican hundreds of thousands of euros. He mentioned beginning a trial so quickly didn’t give defence legal professionals sufficient time to arrange.
Two Italian brokers, Gianluigi Torzi and Raffaele Mincione, had been charged with embezzlement, fraud and cash laundering. Torzi, for whom Italian magistrates issued an arrest warrant in April, was additionally charged with extortion.
There was no rapid response to makes an attempt to achieve their legal professionals, however each males have persistently denied wrongdoing.
4 firms related to particular person defendants, two in Switzerland, one in the US and one in Slovenia, had been additionally indicted, in line with the doc.
The investigation into the acquisition of the constructing grew to become public on Oct. 1, 2019, when Vatican police raided the places of work of the Secretariat of State, the executive coronary heart of the Catholic Church, and people of the Vatican’s Monetary Data Authority (AIF).
The then-president of the AIF, Rene Bruelhart, a 48-year-old Swiss, and AIF’s former Italian director, Tommaso Di Ruzza, 46, had been charged with abuse of workplace for allegedly failing to adequately shield the Vatican’s pursuits and giving Torzi what the indictment request known as an “undue benefit”.
Di Ruzza was additionally accused of embezzlement associated to alleged inappropriate use of his official bank card, and of divulging confidential info.
Bruelhart mentioned in a textual content message that he had “all the time carried out my features and duties with correctness” and that “the reality about my innocence will emerge”.
Di Ruzza didn’t instantly reply to a voicemail requesting remark.
In 2014, the Secretariat of State invested greater than 200 million euros, a lot of it from contributions from the devoted, in a fund run by Mincione, securing about 45% of a business and residential constructing at 60 Sloane Avenue in London’s South Kensington district.
The indictment request mentioned Mincione had tried to deceive the Vatican, which in 2018 tried to finish the connection.
It turned to Torzi for assist in shopping for up the remainder of the constructing, however later accused him of extortion.
On the time, Becciu was within the final yr of his publish as deputy secretary of state for common affairs, a robust administrative place that handles a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of euros.
All instructed, the Secretariat of State sank greater than 350 million euros into the funding, in line with Vatican media, and suffered what Cardinal George Pell, the previous Vatican treasurer, instructed Reuters final yr had been “huge losses”.
Torzi was arrested within the Vatican in June 2020, and spent every week in custody.
Based on the indictment request, Becciu is charged with 5 counts of embezzlement, two of abuse of workplace, and one rely of inducing a witness to perjury. About 75 pages of the doc are devoted to Becciu.
It says Becciu tried to “closely deflect” the inquiry into Vatican investments, together with the London constructing, and tried to discredit the investigating magistrates through the Italian media.
Becciu continued to have affect over cash transfers on the Secretariat even after he left the publish, the doc mentioned.
The principle costs towards Becciu contain the alleged funnelling of cash and contracts to firms or charitable organisations managed by his brothers on their native island of Sardinia.
One other Sardinian, Cecilia Marogna, 40, who labored for Becciu, was charged with embezzlement. Her cellphone was not related.
The indictment request mentioned she had obtained about 575,000 euros from the Secretariat of State in 2018-2019.
She has mentioned on Italian tv that the cash, despatched to her firm in Slovenia, was to ransom kidnapped missionaries in Africa. However the indictment request mentioned a lot of it was used for “private profit”, together with the acquisition of luxurious items.
Extra reporting by Elvira Pollina in Milan; Enhancing by Kevin Liffey
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