A former cardinal and nine others will stand trial at the Vatican this week over an embezzlement scandal that allegedly saw charity funds used in a ruinous London property venture. Source: The Australian.
Ex-cardinal Angelo Becciu, who served as the equivalent of a papal chief of staff for Pope Francis before being fired last year, has been charged with crimes including embezzlement and abuse of office.
The defendants face jail time or stiff fines if found guilty.
Today’s hearing is expected to be purely technical and the trial, held in a makeshift courtroom in the Vatican Museums, may be adjourned until after the summer break.
It follows a two-year probe into how the Secretariat of State – the key department in the Vatican’s central administration – managed its vast asset portfolio and, in particular, who knew what about a disastrous 350 million euro ($415m) London investment.
Two London-based Italian financiers, Raffaele Mincione and Gianluigi Torzi, were involved in buying the former Harrods warehouse in Chelsea intended for conversion into luxury apartments.
The building’s purchase at an inflated price meant “substantial losses for the Vatican, and dipped into resources intended for the Holy Father’s personal charitable work”, the Holy See said before the trial.
Mr Mincione and Mr Torzi were helped, prosecutors claim, by Enrico Crasso, a former Vatican investment manager, and employee Fabrizio Tirabassi, both of whom face a series of charges including fraud.
Cardinal Becciu has also been charged in relation to donations totalling over 800,000 euros (1.27m) he is accused of making to a charity run by his brother.
Historic Vatican fraud trial to expose London secrets (AFP via The Australian)