This Tuesday the most scandalous criminal trial in the history of the Vatican in which the main accused is the Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, accused with nine officials, financial speculators and lawyers of having committed crimes by embezzlement, abuse of functions, fraud, extortion and money laundering.
A story that is written from the decision of Becciu, who was Pope Francis’ “Minister of the Interior”, to invest 200 million euros in 2014 in the purchase of a luxury building in London that had been a warehouse for stores. Harrods.
The operation proved a nightmare for the interests that were unleashed to explode the worst corruption scandal in the Vatican in the last 30 years.
The first hearing lasted more than seven hours in a makeshift court in a room of the Vatican Museums, due to the lack of space in the courthouse.
It is the first time that a cardinal has been tried by laymen. On April 30, the Pope announced the abolition of ancient privileges that required a prince of the Church to be tried only by his peers. Francis established that cardinals could be tried like others.
The process is led by the President of the Vatican Supreme Court, Giuseppe Pignatone, a former high-ranking Italian judicial official, accompanied on the stand by jurists, also Italian, Venerando Marano and Carlo Bonzano, from the Tor Vergata University in Rome.
Cardinal Becciu, who has declared several times that he is the victim of a plot against him, attended the first session of the process that will continue on October 5.
In a statement, Cardinal Becciu stated that he “serenely awaits the continuation of the hearings to” prove my innocence in the face of each accusation.
An additional fact that makes the case more dramatic is that the 200 million euros that were dedicated to paying for the opaque construction speculation operation, come from the fund managed by the Secretary of State, which runs the Roman Curia, called Obolo de San Pedro.
The Obolo manages about 400 million euros with the donations made by the faithful around the world to the Pope’s charitable works.
Cardinal Becciu held the position of Substitute for the Secretary of State, equivalent to “Minister of the Interior of the Church, between 2011 and 2018, when the Pope promoted him to prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, creating him a cardinal.
The speculative operations caused further losses due to the “non sancta” intervention of three magicians of speculative finance, who are among the accused.
Son Enrico Grasso, who for decades operated with the Vatican as a financial strategist, Francesco Mincione, owner of the “Athena” Fund and GianLuigi Torzi.
How was the scam
The Vatican did not directly buy the London “palazzo”, which was owned by Francesco Mincione, but acquired shares in the financier’s “Athena” fund.
The investment deteriorated rapidly. After losing 18 million, the Vatican strategists decided to acquire the entire building.
This is the darkest point of speculation and fraud. In the end, after paying another 40 million euros to Mincione, a new finance wizard, Gianluigi Torzi, appeared, taking over the luxurious London building without putting up a euro.
The investments were converged in a company called “Gutt”, controlled by Torzi. The financier delivered 30,000 shares to the Vatican and reserved only 1,000 shares for himself. But the many actions of the Church had no purchasing power and the thousand of Torzi did.
To make such an open scam effective, some treacherous Vatican officials, who are in the group of defendants, had to participate. Among them was Monsignor Alberto Perlasca, a right arm bishop of Cardinal Beciuu, who left the group of accused after becoming the Great Repentant of this dark story.
Monsignor Perlasca told everything to the investigators headed by the Vatican Promoter of Justice (prosecutor). The Pope forgave him for services rendered. He even said that Cardinal Breciuu asked him to recant, which added further accusations against the cardinal.
It should be noted that when the Pope expelled Becciu on September 20, 2020, although the cardinal formally resigned as Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, he also removed the contents of his cardinal title.
He cannot participate in the meetings of the Sacred College and even less in a Conclave to elect a new Pope. But he left him as a last gesture of friendship, they had the power to continue using the title, converted into an empty shell of content.
The history of the London “palazzo” had a final mess. The financier Torzi did not accept the protests of the Vatican for having been cajoled. He asked for up to 30 million euros as compensation for his retirement. On November 22, 2018, he was received by the Pope himself but continued to demand that he be paid.
In the end they gave him 15 million euros that was taken from a secret account of the Pope that is managed in the Union of Swiss Banks.
It is estimated that the Vatican has paid 365 million euros, which it will never recover in part, for full possession of the London building.
The other defendants
On the list of accused is Monsignor Mauro Carlino, denounced for extortion and abuse of power. Also Tommaso Di Ruzza, who was director of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority, denounced for embezzlement, abuse of power and violation of secrets of the Holy See.
The most exotic defendant is Cecilia Marogna, called “Lady Vaticano,” whom Cardinal Becciu appointed as a security consultant.
She is accused of embezzlement. He spent a lot of money on travel and shopping for fashion and luxury items of the best Italian brands. “They were gifts for my contacts,” he said.
Magogna explained that one of the missions he had was to achieve the liberation of Italian Catholic hostages in various countries of the world. He had especially taken care of being able to free a kidnapped nun.