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Cardinal's trial begins for Vatican financial scandal |  world and science

Cardinal’s trial begins for Vatican financial scandal | world and science

The Vatican is investigating an advisor to Pope John Paul II in the cover-up of child abuseFrance Press agency

The first hearing of the largest corruption and embezzlement trial in the history of the Vatican began on Tuesday, 27, in a room of the Vatican Museums, where a cardinal appeared for the first time as an accused, but the case was postponed for two months for the defense. Request.

In this hall, prepared for the occasion, Italian Cardinal Angelo Piccio, who served as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs between 2011 and 2018, one of the most powerful positions in Romanian Korea, was judged.

At the first session of the trial, the Italian anti-Mafia judge Giuseppe Pignatoni, president of the Chamber, agreed to the defense’s request for more time and postponed the next session to October 5. At the end of the first hearing, Cardinal Picchio informed, through a statement, that he was “quietly awaiting the trial to prove his innocence.”

This court is tasked with determining whether the Holy See has been a victim of fraud by a group of unscrupulous businessmen, or whether it is, in fact, a system of internal corruption involving important church leaders.

If convicted, the defendants could face several years in prison for fraud, embezzlement, extortion, money laundering and abuse of power. This scandal also includes collusion with espionage and tax havens, as it left a hole in the millions of euros in the accounts of the Vatican.

Of the 10 defendants, half were employed by Pope Francis during the controversial two-step purchase of a 17,000-square-meter luxury building in London’s fashionable Chelsea district.

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This property was acquired, at an overvalued price, through highly speculative financial packages. The operations were mediated by two Italian businessmen based in London.

In 2013-2014, the State Department borrowed more than $200 million (mostly from Crédit Suisse) to invest in the Luxembourg Fund “Athens”, owned by London-based Italian-Swiss businessman Raffaele Mencioni.

Money was borrowed, thanks to the recognized solvency of the Vatican. Half of the amount was allocated for the purchase of 45% of the aforementioned building in London, and the other half for investments in the stock market.

Mencioni used church money for “speculative operations,” including buying up financially troubled Italian banks, the attorney general’s office reports.

The Holy See, which ended up recording losses in the stock exchange, was unable to control these investments. In light of this, I decided, after only four years, at the end of 2018, to terminate this partnership.

For this, the Holy See chose Gianluigi Torzi as the new mediator. He negotiated the departure of Raffaele Mincione, compensating him with £40 million ($55 million) and amending the financial agreement until the Vatican finally became the sole owner of the building.

In turn, Turzi took control of the property (through voting shares) and then blackmailed the foreign minister for 15 million euros (about $18 million at current exchange rates) to leave, according to the text of the court indictment.

The judges also identified the two main characters who helped Mencioni and Torzi break into the networks of the Vatican in exchange for money.

One of them is Enrico Crasso, a famous businessman with Swiss citizenship, who for decades managed the coffers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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The other is Fabrizio Terrapasi, an important unofficial official in the State Department, responsible for investments. He also received commissions from banks for his interventions and was considered the right-hand man of Cardinal Picchio.

In a statement before the opening of the trial, the Holy See acknowledged that this purchase “caused great losses in the financial affairs of the Vatican, and even the resources allocated to the personal charitable work of the Holy Father.”

This issue presents a formidable challenge to Pope Francis. In addition to exposing the lack of control over the finances of the Vatican, and for this reason he had to initiate an internal reform, he highlights the privileges of various ecclesiastical entities.

The Pope has been a fierce critic of corruption and has consistently denounced global financial speculation since his election eight years ago.

The “reckless” use of a portion of the money that churches around the world donate each year to the Pope’s charitable works also contributed to the scandal.