The Becciu Trial: The Atmosphere Grows Heavy

May 04, 2022
Tommaso Di Ruzza, former director of the AIF

Called to the stand, the former director of the Holy See's Financial Reporting Authority (FIA) testified that Pope Francis asked him to help the Secretariat of State gain full control of the London property at the heart of the trial, once again putting the pope and his principal collaborators in the spotlight.

Tommaso Di Ruzza is one of ten people charged in the Vatican's sprawling financial trial, at the center of which is the Secretariat of State's 350 million euro investment in a London luxury property.

The Vatican promoter of justice – the equivalent of a prosecutor – suspects several brokers and senior Vatican officials of defrauding the Holy See of millions of euros, much of it from donations from the faithful, then of having extorted from the Vatican fifteen million euros to obtain total control of certain assets.

Tommaso Di Ruzza – the former director of the Vatican Financial Information Authority, or AIF, which has since become ASIF – for his part is accused of abuse of power for having given the green light to the famous transfer of fifteen million paid to Gianluigi Torzi – a broker with a sulphureous reputation – and for not having alerted the Vatican's financial police of a more than suspicious operation.

Summoned to the bar on April 27, 2022, the person at the heart of the thirteenth hearing of the Becciu trial was questioned by Giuseppe Pignatone, the president of the court, and Alessandro Diddi, the promoter of justice.

The former director of the AIF remains unfazed. No, he did not have the power to block the financial transaction: “I have always acted in accordance with the rules and to protect the interests of the Holy See in accordance with the mandate entrusted to me, and within the limits of the information available,” Tommaso Di Ruzza proclaimed loud and clear.

When Gianluca Perone, one of the assistant promoters of justice, asks the accused why he had not filed a report with the Vatican’s financial judiciary, the latter replied tit for tat: “Allow me to ask a question: Who should I have denounced? The substitute secretary of state?” Because Tommaso di Ruzza does not intend to take the blame for others, even if it means putting the highest Vatican officials in the spotlight.

“As regards the events covered by the procedure, my only interlocutors were His Holiness Pope Francis, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, and his substitute Msgr. Edgar Pena Parra, the directors of the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), i.e., its president Jean-Baptiste Douville de Franssu, and its general manager Gianfranco Mammi, as well as René Brülhart,” he insisted, throwing a chill in the courtroom.

In adjourning the session, Giuseppe Pignatone set up the next meeting with the magistrates, as well as the many journalists covering the event, for May 5, for the second part of the Cardinal Angelo Maria Becciu’s interrogation.

A fourteenth hearing which will not lack tension: for the native Sardinia of the cardinal stripped of his prerogatives by the Argentine pontiff, a collective of priests has just signed an open letter denouncing a recent police raid in connection with the trial, as being “absurd” and “unjustified.”

And as if that were not enough, Luigi Panella, the lawyer for Enrico Crasso, one of the defendants, drew a parallel between the methods of the trial and the “medieval Inquisition.”