The search conducted by the Vatican police of the offices of the Secretariat of State on October 1st resulted in the seizure of several exhibits, and the dismissal of five employees of the Holy See, including a clergyman close to circles of power. The Italian press reports on suspicious transactions valued at several hundred million euros, and fears that the reforming image of the current pontificate has been undermined on a long term basis.
The sovereign pontiff had been informed at the beginning of the summer of 2019 by the leaders of the Institute of Roman Works (IOR), the Vatican Bank, that “dubious” and “very large” financial operations had occurred in recent years. Alerted, the Argentine pope immediately launched an investigation.
Thus, on October 1, 2019, at the request of the Promoter of the Justice of the Tribunal, Gian Piero Milano and his Adjunct Promoter Alessandro Diddi, members of the police force seized confidential documents and computers, not only from the offices of the First Section of the Secretariat of State, but also from the premises of the AIF, the State Financial Information Authority, the independent body created by Pope Benedict XVI to fight against money laundering.
On the morning of October 2, the Vatican Police Force, led by Domenico Giani, issued an internal note, which quickly fell into the hands of a journalist who published it in the newspaper L’Espresso.
Questionable Real Estate Transactions
We learn that five Vatican employees have been “suspended from their duties.” Among them was a clergyman, Bishop Mauro Carlino, who several weeks ago still headed, the “Information and Documentation Office,” the strategic body at the heart of Vatican information.
The investigation is just beginning. But according to L'Espresso, the incriminated facts concern real estate transactions abroad, in particular prestigious properties in London, as well as international English companies that have taken part in the undertaking.
Corriere della sera is more precise and advances an amount of two hundred million euros that would have been transferred to the United Kingdom, and other sums placed in Luxembourg: “how are we going to explain to the faithful that Pope Francis’ Vatican owns a luxury building in Sloane Square, in the heart of one of London’s most exclusive neighborhoods, in which two hundred million euros have been invested in a risky manner? This is the question now being asked between the walls of the Vatican,” says the daily.
In addition, the investigators have also spotted suspicious financial flows in the Peter’s Pence accounts. Some financial investments are subject to audit.
The complaints lodged by the IOR concern a recent period, when the offices of the First Section of the Secretariat of State was led by Bishop Angelo Becciu, who has since been promoted to Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Mgr. Carlino, one of the five suspended employees, has long been the personal secretary of Cardinal Becciu, one of the most influential men in the curia, who enjoys the confidence of Pope Francis.