As prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, Pell led an effort called for by Pope Francis to bring order and accountability to the Vatican's finances, which have long lacked centralized procedures, controls, and oversight.
Pell clashed in that role with Becciu, who as sostituto of the Secretariat of State served effectively as the pope's chief of staff. Becciu at one point acted to cancel a contract Pell had made for an external audit of Vatican finances.
Reflecting on Becciu’s statement at the trial, Pell said he wanted to focus “on Cardinal Becciu’s final remarks on the AUD 2.3 million [$1.6m] paid to Neustar for the internet domain ‘.catholic’ on 4/9/2015. Was the payment from the Council for Social Communications or from the Secretariat of State? The introduction of this claim only deepens the mystery.”
Pell added that Becciu’s statement to the court differed from what he had told him in December 2020, “that the destination of the funds from the Secretariat of State to Australia was none of my business, but was known to the Holy Father.”
It is undisputed, Pell said, that the Pontifical Council for Social Communications made large payments to Neustar Australia and a domain name registry “for the reservation of the title “Catholic” in 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.”
“Doubts, of course, are removed by facts, by evidence, not assertions. Unfortunately, I do not have information on payments to Neustar Australia in 2015 beyond USD 150,000 the Council for Social Communications paid as a deposit. It was not my usual practice to sign off on payments from the Secretariat of State,” Pell wrote.