Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu

30 September 2020

Pope Francis told Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, a powerful Vatican official, to resign in a surprising move. The Cardinal was a heavyweight in the Vatican hierarchy after several decades of his career in the Holy See.

He is linked to ill-fated real estate investments costing hundreds of millions, through Credit Suisse. Vatican enlisted an Italian businessman Raffaele Mincione, who sold the property, with the maintenance the property.

It was alleged that the funds for the property deals were allegedly embezzled from the church. A former Credit Suisse banker was tasked with managing the funds. Since October, investigators in Vatican City have conducted several raids on different Vatican departments in connection with the London property deal and connected investments. Investigators raided offices at the secretariat and the AIF, the Vatican’s financial watchdog, and seized computers and phones. This resulted in the suspension of several members of staff.

Italian newspaper L’Espresso published a story accusing Becciu of using his positions in the curia to funnel money to members of his own family. He said that this was not true. For more than a year before Cardinal’s resignation CNA and other news outlets were reporting on various financial scandals involving Becciu and the Holy See’s Secretariat of State, where he served as deputy for seven years.

It was also alleged that he attempted to undercut financial reforms promoted by Cardinal George Pell, who headed the Vatican’s economic arm until he returned to his native Australia to face accusations of sexual abuse.

His most recent position was head of the Vatican department that creates saints.

Vatican did not give any reasons for this move. But Swiss portal cited cronyism as the reason.

New details have emerged about the two Italian businessmen involved in the purchase and management of the London properties. In the months before Gianluigi Torzi was asked by the Holy See to act as middle man for the final purchase of the London property at 60 Sloane Avenue from Raffaele Mincione, a company owned by Mincione which borrowed a multi-million-euro loan from a company controlled by Torzi. Last month, Torzi was arrested by the Vatican and charged with a range of financial crimes. The following day, Vatican-state media accused Mincione of a “conflict of interest” in his management of investments for the Secretariat of State.

Torzi’s loan to Raffaele Mincione was secured against shares owned by Mincione in the Italian Banca Carige. The Financial Times reported on July 30 that in January, 2018, Sunset Financial, a Malta based company controlled by Torzi, provided a 26.4 million euro line of credit to Pop 12 Sarl., a Luxembourg company owned by Mincione. The security was again shares in the Italian Banca Carige. In February 2018, Mincione’s company borrowed an additional 12 million euros from Global Prime Partners, Ltd (GPP), a European prime broker. The loan was secured with the same collateral as the credit line from Sunset Financial: the Carige bank shares. Over the course of 2018, the share value of Carige collapsed, and Pop 12 reported a loss of nearly 17.5 million euros on the value of its 24.9 million euro holding in the bank, leaving it unable to cover the loans from GPP and Sunset.

So, by In November 2018 when Torzi was asked by the Vatican Secretariat of State to broker the final purchase of the London building from Mincione, Mincione was in financial difficulties in servicing its loans. Torzi’s loan to Mincione was also at stake. Both men had conflict of interest in the purchase and management of the London properties. Vatican also failed to do due diligence before the purchase of the properties.

The Council of Europe’s anti-laundering body Moneyval, which was drafted in by the Vatican to oversee its anti-corruption reforms, began its latest inspection on Wednesday, as more reports of dirty dealings in a property investment scandal emerged. Vatican said that Moneyval will assess the effectiveness of the legislative and institutional measures adopted during a recent crackdown on corruption, the Vatican said.

The scheduled inspection comes on the day Australian Cardinal George Pell – a rival of Becciu who was once tasked with cleaning up the Vatican’s finances – was expected back in Rome for the first time since being acquitted of sexual abuse charges.

The lawyer, Ivano Iai, representing Cardinal Angelo Becciu and his family has resigned over criticism of his social media activities. Iai apparently a recreational body-builder, posted a series of photographs of himself in revealing swimwear on different social media sites, including Instagram and Twitter. There was mounting criticism and mockery online of his social media presence, including by the tabloid site Dagospia. The lawyer told Italian news site Adnkronos that images he posted of himself were meant to be “lighthearted” and he “never ever” imagined they would create a problem for his high-profile clients.

BBC and catholicnewsagency reported.