In April 2012, the IOR asked Optimum to "host" the IOR's Ad Maiora fund. Ad Maiora was a fund of funds, which the IOR used to manage and coordinate a series of investments made with the authorization of the Board of Superintendence.
The IOR allegedly failed to invest in the deal, and the €29.5 million seized by Maltese authorities appears to be the amount of the loss. According to the Institute, the committee that led to the investment was deceived by Alberto Matta and Girolamo Stabile, directors of Futura Investment Management, and by Optimum.
In 2013, the IOR had decided to invest €41The operation foresaw that the Futura K fund would buy a non-performing loan from the owner of the building of the former Hungarian stock exchange. For those unfamiliar with financial jargon, a non-performing loan is a loan to a debtor with a high insolvency solution. For this reason, the collection of credit is uncertain.
That loan was then converted back to 86 percent of shares in the Hungarian company that was renovating the estate.
The IOR initially participated with €17 million and an undertaking to contribute to the renovation of the building (valued by a qualified appraisal at the end of 2012 for 40 million) and therefore participated in the profits.
In May 2013, the IOR Board of Superintendence decided to close Ad Maiora and manage directly the funds it comprised. In October 2013, the new IOR general director Rolando Marranci decided that the IOR would pay off the K fund with 24 million (17 initials + 24 remaining for a total of 41) would then have managed the operation himself. But the K Fund never received the promised money and asked the IOR to fulfill its undertakings. At that point, the IOR sued the K fund, asking to get back the €17 million.
According to the IOR, Futura had made a profit of €11.6 million by first tricking the Vatican into the price and then planning to sell 90 percent of the future shares it held in the company that was renovating the the stock exchange to the Cougar Real Estate in Luxembourg. This was, in turn, owned by a Dubai company.
The Vatican's accusation is that Cougar was used to acquire the €20.4 million loan, bringing the remaining €11.6 million into the coffers of Holdabco and Alpininvestissements, two other minority shareholders. "It is clear," the IOR's attorney said, "that the IOR has been abusively caught in a threatening network of suspicious intrigues and transactions."
On November 23, 2019, the IOR learned that Indotek Group Hungary was about to acquire Cougar. The IOR complained that neither Cougar nor Futura provided the IOR with any notification of the transaction, which would have led to the sale of the investment.
For its part, Futura sued the IOR, accusing the Vatican outfit of having committed to investing €41 million, but only putting in €17 million. The IOR would, therefore, be bound to invest the remaining €24 million, as documented in Futura's commitment letter signed by Director Marranci.
The position of the lawyers of Futura and Optimum was detailed in a reply the sent to the Times of Malta on December 14, 2019, following an article about the case.
(Column continues below)
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The lawyers say, "Despite IOR's allegations about a lack of transparency, the details of the transaction were indicated by our clients to IOR before the execution of the investment."
Futura claims that the IOR and its investment committee had been offered the opportunity to invest €20.4 million directly in a non-performing loan or to wait for the sell out of the building to run its course to recover the full amount of the loan eventually.
"This was a risky and reputationally problematic instrument," the IOR, the lawyers continued, so they decided not to invest in the non-performing loan. "since it deemed that
Instead, the IOR preferred to acquire the asset once it was cleared of risk, that is, when bankruptcy had been deactivated, and then to invest in a cleaned-up asset.
This choice, the lawyers argue, required third parties, and, naturally, the price of the asset without debt is much higher than the non-performing loan.
According to the Maltese lawyers, "[T]he truth is that IOR defaulted on its undisputable contractual obligations and has been trying in every possible way to find legal ground in order to avoid the inevitable and severe consequences of this."