According to 2019 reports, Peter’s Pence funds, which are donated by Catholics around the world, were used to help finance the Secretariat of State's purchase of the property at 60 Sloane Avenue in London — an investment the secretariat now claims was designed by bad actors to defraud the Vatican of money.
Becciu said he was told by the former head of his administrative office, Monsignor Alberto Perlasca, that Peter’s Pence funds were not used in the London purchase, only Secretariat of State assets.
The head of the Vatican’s central bank, APSA, has also said Peter’s Pence money was not used.
Bishop Nunzio Galantino also said in 2020 that “independent estimates” put the Vatican’s losses on the property at between 66-150 million pounds ($81-185 million).
Becciu said at the May 5 hearing, however, that it would not be incompatible with their purposes to use Peter’s Pence funds for investments.
Perlasca, once a suspect in the Vatican’s financial investigation, is now a witness for the prosecution. He was also approved on May 18 to join the trial as a civil party seeking damages against his former superior, Becciu, on the witness tampering charge.
Cardinal Becciu said on the stand that while he was at the Secretariat of State, he trusted Perlasca and his honesty, which was the reason why, he said, he never questioned any of the investments.
He said Perlasca never made him aware of any suspicious behavior by Italian businessmen Raffaele Mincione, who sold the Vatican the London building, and Gianluigi Torzi, who brokered the deal’s final stage in 2018.
The prosecutor presented to the court evidence of messages from July 2019, the year after the conclusion of the London sale, in which Perlasca relayed information to Becciu about suspicious behavior by Mincione and Torzi.
Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.