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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Cardinal is convicted of embezzlement in massive Vatican monetary trial, sentenced to 5½ years

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VATICAN CITY — A Vatican tribunal on Saturday convicted a cardinal of embezzlement and sentenced him to 5½ years in jail in one in all a number of verdicts handed down in a sophisticated monetary trial that aired the town state’s soiled laundry and examined its justice system.

Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the primary cardinal ever prosecuted by the Vatican prison court docket, was absolved of a number of different prices and his 9 co-defendants obtained a combined final result of some responsible verdicts and plenty of acquittals of the practically 50 prices introduced towards them throughout a 2½ yr trial.

Becciu’s lawyer, Fabio Viglione, stated he revered the sentence however would attraction.

Prosecutor Alessandro Diddi stated the result “confirmed we have been appropriate.”

The trial centered on the Vatican secretariat of state’s 350 million euro funding in growing a former Harrod’s warehouse into luxurious flats. Prosecutors alleged Vatican monsignors and brokers fleeced the Holy See of tens of tens of millions of euros in charges and commissions after which extorted the Holy See for 15 million euros to cede management of the constructing.

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Becciu was accused of embezzlement-related prices in two tangents of the London deal and confronted as much as seven years in jail.

In the long run, he was convicted of embezzlement stemming from the unique Vatican funding of 200 million euros right into a fund that invested within the London property. The tribunal decided canon legislation prohibited utilizing church property in such a speculative funding.

Raffaele Mincione, a London-based Italian dealer who managed the fund, was additionally convicted of embezzlement. His attorneys instantly introduced an attraction, saying they have been incredulous a dealer who took underneath administration Vatican funds from Swiss banks may very well be convicted and sentenced to 5½ years in jail over an “obscure canonical legislation” that Mincione stated he solely discovered about on Saturday.

Becciu was additionally convicted of embezzlement for his 125,000 euro donation of Vatican cash to a charity run by his brother in Sardinia and of utilizing Vatican cash to pay an intelligence analyst who in flip was convicted of utilizing the cash for herself.

The trial had raised questions concerning the rule of legislation within the metropolis state and Francis’ energy as absolute monarch, on condition that he wields supreme legislative, govt and judicial authority and had exercised it in methods the protection says jeopardized a good trial.

The protection attorneys did reward Decide Giuseppe Pignatone’s even-handedness and stated they have been in a position to current their arguments amply. However they lamented the Vatican’s outdated procedural norms gave prosecutors huge leeway to withhold proof and in any other case pursue their investigation practically unimpeded.

Andrea Tornielli, the Vatican’s editorial director, stated the verdicts confirmed the defendants’ rights have been revered.

“The result of this trial tells us that the judges of the tribunal, as is correct, acted with full independence primarily based on documentary proofs and witnesses, not pre-confectioned theories,” he wrote in an editorial in Vatican Information.

Prosecutors had sought jail phrases from three to 13 years and damages of over 400 million euros to attempt to recuperate the estimated 200 million euros they are saying the Holy See misplaced within the unhealthy offers.

In the long run, the tribunal acquitted lots of the suspects of lots of the greatest prices, together with fraud, corruption and money-laundering, figuring out in lots of {cases} that the crimes merely did not exist.

But it surely nonetheless ordered the confiscation of 166 million euros from them and fee of civil damages to Vatican places of work of 200 million euros. One defendant, Becciu’s former secretary Monsignor Mauro Carlino, was acquitted totally.

The trial was initially seen as an indication of Francis’ monetary reforms and willingness to crack down on alleged monetary misdeeds within the Vatican. But it surely had one thing of a reputational boomerang for the Holy See, with revelations of vendettas, espionage and even ransom funds to Islamic militants.

A lot of the London case rested on the passage of the property from one London dealer, Mincione, to a different in late 2018. Prosecutors allege the second dealer, Gianluigi Torzi, hoodwinked the Vatican by maneuvering to safe full management of the constructing that he relinquished solely when the Vatican paid him off 15 million euros.

For Vatican prosecutors, that amounted to extortion. For the protection — and a British choose who rejected Vatican requests to grab Torzi’s property — it was a negotiated exit from a legally binding contract.

In the long run, the tribunal convicted Torzi of a number of prices, together with extortion, and sentenced him to 6 years in jail. Mincione was absolved of, amongst different issues, of inflating the price of the constructing when the Vatican purchased into it.

It wasn’t clear the place the suspects would serve their time, if the convictions are upheld on attraction. The Vatican has a jail, however Torzi’s whereabouts weren’t instantly recognized and it wasn’t clear how or whether or not different nations would extradite the defendants to serve any sentence.

The previous heads of the Vatican monetary intelligence company, Tommaso di Ruzza and Rene Bruelhart, have been absolved of the principle cost of abuse of workplace. They have been convicted solely of failing to report a suspicious transaction involving Torzi to prosecutors and fined 1,750 euros apiece.

That they had argued they couldn’t tip off Vatican prosecutors to the transaction as a result of they’d initiated their very own cross-border monetary intelligence-gathering operation into Torzi after Francis requested them to assist the secretariat of state get possession of the property.

A Vatican official, Fabrizio Tirabassi, was convicted of extortion together with Torzi and a money-laundering cost. The Vatican’s long-time monetary adviser, Enrico Crasso was convicted of a number of prices together with embezzlement and sentenced to seven years in jail.

The unique London investigation spawned two different tangents that concerned the star defendant, Becciu, as soon as one in all Francis’ high advisers and himself thought-about a papal contender.

Prosecutors accused Becciu of embezzlement for sending 125,000 euros in Vatican cash to a Sardinian charity run by his brother. Becciu argued that the native bishop requested the cash to construct a bakery to make use of at-risk youths and that the cash remained within the diocesan coffers.

The tribunal acknowledged the charitable ends of the donation however convicted him of embezzlement, given his brother’s position.

Becciu was additionally accused of paying a Sardinian lady, Cecilia Marogna, for her intelligence providers. Prosecutors traced some 575,000 euros in wire transfers from the Vatican to a Slovenian entrance firm owned by Marogna and stated she used the cash to purchase luxurious items and fund holidays.

Becciu stated he thought the cash was going to pay a British safety agency to barter the discharge of Gloria Narvaez, a Colombian nun taken hostage by Islamic militants in Mali in 2017.

The tribunal discovered each responsible and sentenced Marogna to a few years and 9 months in jail.

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This model corrects the primary title of Becciu lawyer to Fabio.



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