For the first time, a cardinal is appearing before a Vatican court, and the cardinal is not being judged by non-church personalities.
Pope Francis gave the green light to prosecute former Under Secretary of State Angelo Becciu and nine others for a scandal surrounding real estate investment in London. “The money of the poor was used for business purposes,” the accusation sounds. However, the cardinal defends himself by saying that this is just a simple financial investment. According to Vatican sources close to the cardinal, Becciu did not think the whole matter could get worse so far. Now, however, what is almost unthinkable a few weeks ago is happening. The president of the tribunal, Giuseppe Pignatone, ordered the cardinal and his associates to be held accountable for their actions in court. The trial will begin on July 27, with the Secretary of State represented by Paola Severino, a lawyer. The investigation began on July 19, 2019. The Vatican’s Attorney General Gian Piero Milano has compiled five hundred pages of indictments. Becciut is accused of embezzlement, abuse of office, complicity and “incitement” by intimidating a witness to withdraw his confession. What really happened? Becciu, who was removed from the post of deputy secretary of state last September, was a key figure in the development of mafia relations, not even inaugurating the archbishop in his financial machinations. Two years ago, it turned out that in 2014, he had invested a significant amount in a luxury property on Sloane Avenue in London’s Chelsea district, which they then wanted to pass on. What’s particularly embarrassing is that he financed part of the transaction from some of the pillar-ups collected at Mass on June 29th. The pope was very sensitive to the scandal, as such a deal does not fit into his vision of the Catholic Church of the future. The Peter Pillars are donations to the Pope, which are used for the universal mission of the Church. Buying property in London is hardly one of those responsibilities. In connection with the real estate case, last June the Vatican’s attorney general ordered the detention of broker Gianluigi Torzi, who was imprisoned in the Holy See. The man mediated in the real estate transaction. He is suspected of extortion, embezzlement, multiple fraud and money laundering, and can face up to 12 years in prison under Vatican criminal law. The London building used to belong to the Harrods chain. The fact that the Holy See uses a property as an investment is not yet new, as it has several properties not only in Rome and Italy, but also abroad. What is more embarrassing, however, is that Peter fillers were used for this. The secretariat of the Holy See wanted to complete the transaction through an investment fund of another Italian entrepreneur, Raffaele Mincione, but lost € 18 million, according to Italian press calculations. The Vatican then commissioned Gianluigi Torzi to buy the property, but the broker wrote the shares of the company that owned the building in his own name and then blackmailed the Vatican in return. On the London property, originally estimated at more than € 90 million, the Vatican has lost at least € 50 million, with other calculations exceeding 350 million. Last November, Nunzio Galantino, chairman of the Apostolic See’s Trust, said the transaction caused damage of between € 73-166 million. In addition, Becciu and his circle, as revealed in December 2019, contributed € 50 million to a Maltese-registered financial fund, the Centurion Global Fund, in which case some of the Peter Pillers could also be used for the transaction. Among other things, this fund was used to fund the film Rocketman about the life of Elton John. Although the Vatican suffered minor financial losses in this case, to put it mildly, the Holy See’s reputation did not do the deal any good. This, in turn, drove water to the mills of ultraconservatives, especially those living in the United States, who are Pope Francis ’greatest opponents. After Saturday’s announcement, Becciu explained in a statement he can finally clarify himself and the court finds “the absolute untruth of the accusations and dark conspiracies”. The high priest mentioned “machination” and “media scandal”. Among the defendants we can also find the names of two other well-known personalities. René Brülhart, former president of the Vatican Financial Authority, then director of the Financial Information Supervision in the Holy See, Tommaso Di Ruzza is also accused of misconduct, embezzlement, misuse of office and breach of professional secrecy, according to reports Pope set it aside for charity.
Source: Népszava by nepszava.hu.
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