The main scandal is the secretariat’s purchase, from 2014 to 2018, of an investment property at 60 Sloane Avenue in London. The deal, investigators argue, turned out to be cooked up by bad actors who took advantage of Vatican money to finance their own debts from prior deals that went wrong.
Prosecutors have charged Italian businessmen Raffaele Mincione and Gianluigi Torzi, who negotiated and brokered the Secretariat of State’s purchase of the property with help from longtime Vatican investment manager Enrico Crasso.
Mincione has been charged with embezzlement, fraud, abuse of office, misappropriation, and self-money laundering, and Torzi with extortion, embezzlement, fraud, misappropriation, money laundering, and self-money laundering.
Nicola Squillace, a lawyer who worked with Torzi, faces the same charges he does minus extortion.
Crasso, who is the manager of the Centurion Global Fund in which the Holy See is the principal investor, faces charges of corruption, embezzlement, extortion, money laundering, self-money laundering, fraud, abuse of office, falsifying a public document, and falsifying a private document.
The Vatican has also charged three corporations owned by Crasso with fraud.
Additionally, prosecutors have asserted that two officials at the Secretariat of State were involved in the fraud. Fabrizio Tirabassi, who oversaw investments, has been charged with corruption, extortion, embezzlement, fraud, and abuse of office. Msgr. Mauro Carlino, who worked with him, has been charged with extortion and abuse of office.
René Brülhart and Tommaso Di Ruzza, respectively the former president and former director of the Vatican’s internal financial watchdog, have been charged with abuse of office. Di Ruzza is also charged with embezzlement and violation of confidentiality.
Another defendant in the trial is Cecilia Marogna, a self-described security consultant, who has been charged with embezzlement following an investigation into reports that she received hundreds of thousands of euros from the Secretariat in connection with Becciu, and that she spent the money earmarked for charity on luxury goods and vacations.
Vatican prosecutors will be making their case against the defendants based on documents, financial records, and witness testimony.
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Based on information in a 488-page charge sheet reviewed by CNA, other people who may be called to the witness stand during the trial include Luciano Capaldo, manager of the London building at 60 Sloane Avenue, and Manuele Intendente, who was reportedly present at meetings leading to Torzi’s brokerage of the final stage of the London deal in 2018.
One Secretariat of State official who was also investigated because of his involvement in the London investment, but who has not been charged in this trial, is Msgr. Alberto Perlasca. Prosecutors identified Perlasca’s testimony, provided over the course of several interviews, as being important for reconstructing “some central moments” in the affair.
Investigators have also gained access to emails and text messages related to the charges.
None of the defendants has admitted wrongdoing, while Brülhart, Di Ruzza, and Becciu have all said that they are looking forward to defending their innocence in court.
While most of the accused have declined to be interviewed ahead of the trial, some have given some indications of what their defense may include.