They Even Stole the Pope’s Money

October 08, 2020
Premises of the Secretariat of State

Journalist Floriana Bulfon has revealed the existence of a 59-page report on fraud committed in various organizations in the Vatican City. The total embezzlement is estimated to reach 454 million euros.

The starting point was in 2014, it seems, with the business of the London building acquired by the Secretary of State. But the whole of the authors constitute an entire crowd: prelates, brokers, and business lawyers.

The acquisition of the building that housed Harrods’ headquarters mobilized a stream of contributors, which would be difficult to follow. Many of them already had serious scandals.

“The end result is disastrous. In short, for 250 million euros, the Secretariat of State finds itself the owner of a building that would be worth 260 million on paper, but to ensure ownership of the property, it would ultimately have to pay 363 million euros (net of mortgage interest),” says the journalist.

The consultants are not the last to profit from the case. “In total, 711,000 euros disappeared in obscure consulting assignments. Not to mention the British firms, which are also getting their hands on several million euros without authorization,” the article adds.

Two protagonists, Fabrizio Tirabassi, an employee of the Vatican administrative office and holder of an account at the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) - the main financial institution of the Holy See - and Mgr. Alberto Perlasca - former executive of the Secretariat State - even manage to infiltrate the account of the Holy Father, and withdraw 20 million pounds sterling - or 22 million euros.

The ramifications of the case lead to the Mafia. For example, a contract for Bambino Gesù, the Vatican children’s hospital, has been awarded to someone close to the Apulia mob.

The last upheavals are very recent. Vatican police entered the offices of the Vatican Financial Reporting Authority (AIF) and the Secretariat of State on October 1, 2020. Agents, mandated by the Vatican prosecutor, seized documents, computers, and cell phones.

Simultaneously, the Pope appointed as head of the IAFC, Carmelo Barbagallo, 63, former supervisor at the Italian central bank, to succeed Swiss lawyer René Bruelhart, who spent five years in the post.

The echoes of this sprawling affair do not seem to be over.