Two days later, the news broke that the Vatican had suspended five officials: Msgr. Maurizio Carlino, Mr. Fabrizio Tirabassi, Mr. Vincenzo Mauriello and Mrs. Caterina Sansone of the Secretariat of State; and Mr. Tommaso Di Ruzza, ASIF director.
Later on, the Vatican also suspended Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, who led the Secretariat of State's administrative office from 2009 to 2019.
Despite no criminal charges were filed against any of them, all of these officials, except for Caterina Sansone, no longer work at the Vatican. Di Ruzza was not renewed as the ASIF's director, Tirabassi and Mauriello agreed on an early retirement and both Carlino and Perlasca were sent to their dioceses of origin.
Although Cardinal Parolin's leaked letter has no relevance for the investigation, it does provide important context.
One of them is that the Secretariat of State was aware that there were financial and ethical concerns regarding the 2011-2012 investment in the luxury real estate property at 60 Sloane Avenue in London, managed by 60 SA Company.
The Vatican Secretariat of State signed its purchase for $160 million with the Luxembourg-based Athena fund, owned and managed by Italian financier Raffaele Mincione, who acted as an intermediary.
When the Athena fund was liquidated, the investment was not returned to the Holy See. The Holy See risked losing all the money if it did not buy the building.
The ASIF examined the deal and then proposed restructuring the investment, excluding intermediaries and thus making the Holy See save some money.
At that time, the Secretariat of State asked the IOR for resources sufficient to close the old mortgage and allow a new one to conclude the purchase.
Since the investment was initially considered "good" by the IOR, it is still a mystery what led Mammì to change his mind and report the financial operation to the public prosecutor; especially when in September 2020, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) reportedly paid out the loan with Cheney Capital and contracted a new loan to safeguard the investment. This was the same operation suggested by Cardinal Parolin's letter.
So, why did the IOR not carry out the operation, as initially planned?
(Story continues below)
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As more details of the operation come to light, the reason seems to be a power struggle in the inner circle of Pope Francis, with no clear winner. Currently, one year and three months after the search and seizures in the Secretariat of State, the Vatican investigation led to no indictments but also to no decisions not to prosecute. As long as the investigation leads to no clear conclusions, the scenario will continue to be confusing regarding the direction to which the Vatican finances are going.
Andrea Gagliarducci is an Italian journalist for Catholic News Agency and Vatican analyst for ACI Stampa. He is a contributor to the National Catholic Register.