Becciu Trial: The Vatican's “Irrational Choices” Singled Out

June 15, 2022
The Sloane Avenue building, the heart of the trial

The broker at the heart of the dubious financial system which the Court of the Holy See has been examining for several months, claims that the Vatican would have made a substantial profit had it not withdrawn prematurely from the operation then in progress.

An “irrational” decision by the Vatican. Called to testify on June 6, 2022, Raffaele Mincione did not mince words when speaking of his former client.

The businessman, currently being prosecuted for embezzlement, abuse of power, fraud, and money laundering, believes he has been “defamed” in the context of the ongoing legal proceedings, and points to the “criminal” attitude the media is displaying against him.

Relations between the broker and the Secretariat of State date back to 2014, when then-substitute Cardinal Angelo Becciu invested some 200 million euros in the Athena Global Opportunities Fund owned by Raffaele Mincione.

The investigation made it possible to demonstrate that the Holy See's investment had been made possible thanks to loans granted by two Swiss banks, BSI and Credit Suisse, which themselves held other Vatican funds on deposit. Mincione subsequently invested the funds of the micro-state at the level of 45% in a luxury building in London, which belonged to one of his companies.

After the departure of Cardinal Becciu in 2018, the Holy See parted ways with the sulphureous broker, incurring heavy financial penalties for the early withdrawal of its investments.

Until now, Raffaele Mincione had never been heard by the Vatican justice department, perhaps because he feared having the fate of one of his co-accused colleagues who, at the end of his hearing, ended up being detained for ten days in Vatican jails.

On June 6, the testimony of the broker at the heart of London investment took on the appearance of a course in high finance given to the magistrates present in the multipurpose room of the Vatican Museums.

Amounts of commissions, fees, related risks in complex financial arrangements, internal and external controls: “there is not a single penny that has not been accounted for, not an action that has not been authorized, not a negative expert report,” insists Raffaele Mincione, who believes that if the Vatican had not left the investment fund when they did, “there would have been no loss… but juicy capital gains.”

According to him, if there was a mistake made, it was to believe that the Holy See was a “professional” investor, when it acted in an “irrational” way.

The court does not really seem to have been convinced by the explanations of the broker, who risks prison if he is found guilty of the charges for which he is accused.

To deal with any eventuality, the Vatican has also succeeded in persuading Switzerland to seize 50 million euros from the assets of Raffaele Mincione.