ROME (AP) – The Vatican Criminal Tribunal on Saturday indicted 10 people, including the cardinal, and four companies on charges including extortion, malpractice and fraud, in connection with the State Secretariat’s € 350 million investment in a real estate business in London. …
According to the Vatican, the President of the Tribunal, Judge Giuseppe Pinnatone, has set July 27 as the date of the trial.
The charges were brought against five former Vatican officials, including the cardinal and two officials of the State Secretariat, and Italian businessmen who were investing in London. An Italian intelligence expert was also charged with embezzlement.
The Vatican prosecutor’s office accuses the suspects of ransoming millions of euros from the Holy See in fees and other damages related to other financial transactions. The suspects denied wrongdoing.
One of the main suspects in this case, Gianlugi Torzi, is accused of extorting 15 million euros from the Vatican in order to transfer ownership of the London building at the end of 2018. Torzi was held back by the Vatican to help him obtain full ownership of the building in London. the building is owned by another indicted treasurer who was involved in the initial investment.
The Vatican prosecutor’s office claims that Torzi included a clause in the contract at the last moment giving him full voting rights in the deal.
However, the Vatican hierarchy signed the contract, and it was approved by both Pope Francis No. 2, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and his deputy. None of them have been charged.
The Vatican prosecutor’s office provided evidence that they had been defrauded by an Italian lawyer, who was also charged on Saturday, and forced them to agree to the deal.
Torzi denied the charges and said the charges were the result of a misunderstanding. He is currently in London awaiting an extradition request from Italy.
Another once-powerful Holy See official, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, was also indicted, who helped plan the initial London investment when he was Chief of Staff of the Secretariat of State.
Francis dismissed him from his post as head of the Vatican last year, apparently in connection with another matter: his donation of 100,000 euros from public funds from the Secretariat of a diocesan charitable organization run by Brother Becciu.
The Vatican said in a statement that there were “elements” against Becciu in connection with the London investigation. His name was listed separately from the others in the indictment because a separate procedure is required to charge the cardinal.
Becciu denies misconduct with London investments; he admitted that he made a donation, but insisted that the money went to charity and not to his brother.