During an Australian Senate committee hearing on Oct. 20, AUSTRAC chief executive Nicole Rose was asked about allegations that Church funds had been sent to Australia at the behest of Cardinal Becciu for the purposes of influencing Cardinal George Pell’s trial on charges of sexual abuse.
Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells asked Rose about the reports of transfers “allegedly from Vatican funds to a person or persons in Australia.”
“Yes, I can confirm AUSTRAC has looked into the matter and we’ve provided information to the AFP [Australian Federal Police] and to Victoria Police,” Rose told the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee.
Becciu resigned from his curial position and gave up his rights as a cardinal on Sept. 24, reportedly in connection with multiple financial scandals dating back to his time as the second-ranking official at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.
He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing or any attempt to influence Pell’s trial.
In October, Victoria Police said that they had no plans for a further investigation into reports of money transfers from the Vatican.
“AUSTRAC has made Victoria police aware of transfer of monies from the Vatican over a period of time to Australia,” a police statement said.
“They have not advised Victoria Police of any suspicious activity related to these transactions. In the absence of any other evidence or intelligence, Victoria Police has noted the advice from Austrac. We are not at this time conducting any further investigation.”
The Australian newspaper reported in December that AUSTRAC believed that it had discovered around 47,000 Vatican-linked transfers amounting to approximately $1.8 billion.
Australia’s bishops said that they had no knowledge of any Catholic dioceses, charities, or organizations in the country receiving the funds. Vatican officials also denied knowledge of the transfers, according to Reuters.