September 23, 2021

Vatican’s historic fraud trial to uncover London’s secrets

The once powerful Catholic cardinal and nine others were tried this week in the Vatican in a fraud scandal that allegedly involved charitable funds being used in a devastating London property project.

Former Cardinal Angelo Becquerel, who served as Pope Francis’ chief of staff for Pope Francis, was charged with felony criminal mischief and other misdemeanors before he was fired last year.

This is the first time the cardinal has been indicted by convicted Vatican prosecutors, and Becky, 73, will head the trial in recent months.

Defendants face jail time or heavy fines if convicted.

The alleged graft may have infuriated Francis, 84, who is determined to fight corruption and increase his surveillance of the Vatican’s finances, which have been under scrutiny for decades.

Tuesday’s hearing is expected to be completely technical, and the trial in a temporary courtroom at the Vatican Museum could be adjourned after the summer break.

It was not clear if his red Bretta had been taken away.

It is after a two-year investigation that the Secretariat of State – the main department of the Vatican’s central administration – managed its vast asset portfolio and, in particular, who knew the catastrophic 350 million euros (415 million). What about London investment?

Two London-based Italian financiers were involved in buying a 17,000-square-meter building – a former Harrods warehouse in Chelsea – to be converted into a luxury apartment.

Gianguigi Torzi and Rafael Mancon have been charged with embezzlement, fraud and money laundering.

Holy See said before the trial that the purchase of the building at inflated prices meant “considerable losses to the Vatican, and drowned out the resources for Holy Father’s personal charity.”

The first part of the purchase came when Becky was No. 2 in the Secretariat of State, in charge of the wallet.

Between 2013 and 2014, the Secretariat borrowed more than 200 200 million, mainly from Credit Suisse, to invest in Manscon’s Luxembourg Fund. Half of London went to buy part of the property.

Former Cardinal Angelo Beckio
Former Cardinal Angelo Beckio charged with embezzlement and misuse of office Photo: AFP / Andreas Salo

The rest was for stock market investments, but Manscon used it for high-risk projects. Holly C, who had no control over where the money went, tried to get it out in 2018.

Turzi was brought in and tasked with purchasing the rest of the building and severing ties with Manskon – but instead reportedly joined forces with him.

He arranged for Holly C to pay Monscon 40 million (48 million euros (مل 55 million)) for shares in the London building that he did not already have.

But then Torzi allegedly inserted a clause into the paperwork that gave him control of the property. He is accused of demanding 15 million euros to end his rule.

Through former Vatican investment manager Enrico Crusoe and employee Fabrizio Trabassi, the prosecution claims that, both Manscon and Torzi were helped, both face a number of charges, including fraud.

To the embarrassment of Francis, the trial includes two people who have previously been tasked with regulating Holly C Finance, including its former head of financial regulator, Swiss lawyer Renee Browelhart. ۔

Becky has been charged with embezzlement and misconduct in connection with the purchase of a London property.

He has also been accused of donating a total of 800,000 euros to set up a charity run by his brother.

Becky is also related to plaintiff Cecilia Marugna. The Italian press has dubbed her the “Lady of the Cardinal” – who alleged that the money set aside to free pastors and monks held captive abroad was pocketed.

The prosecution claims that the high-ranking Vatican – including the pope’s ally Cardinal Petro-Paroline, Becky’s boss – without knowing what was happening, was in favor of the London plan.

Becky, who denies any wrongdoing, says he is a victim of a plot.

Copyright AFP. All rights reserved.

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