The Vatican finally bought the 1,000 shares from Torzi for 15 million euros ($16 million). According to the indictment, the money given to Torzi resulted from extortion. The broker denies the allegation.
The negotiations took place amid a struggle within the Vatican over financial control and autonomy. A letter by Cardinal George Pell, the then prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, was displayed during the hearings.
Pell complained that the Secretariat of State had not yet provided the necessary data for a budget. A draft written by Tirabassi and fellow Secretariat of State official Antonio Di Iorio accused the Secretariat for the Economy of interference in affairs beyond its powers. It emphasized that the Secretariat for the Economy “must realize that the statutes” did not allow it to infringe “the autonomy of the dicasteries.”
The Vatican’s promoter of justice (similar to a prosecutor) tried to demonstrate that both Crasso and Tirabassi pursued their personal interests. There were moments of tension during the questioning of both men.
The primary purpose of the questions was to define how the decision was made to invest in the building in London’s Sloane Avenue, starting from an investment proposal for an oil extraction concession in Angola proposed by Antonio Mosquito, who Becciu met when he was nuncio to the African country.
Becciu said — and both Crasso and Tirabassi confirmed — that he had only presented the possibility of an Angolan investment but never applied pressure for it to be approved.
It also became clear how broker Raffaele Mincione entered the picture, presented by Credit Suisse London as a business expert on the model of the Angolan Falcon Oil.
During the hearings, another name appeared: that of Giuseppe Milanese, the entrepreneur friend of Pope Francis and head of the OSA cooperative. Tirabassi said that Milanese began to attend the Secretariat of State, presented by Becciu as a person very close to the pope.
Tirabassi added that the Secretariat of State also financed the sale of bonds of Milanese’s cooperative for six million euros (around $6.4 million) with a 6% profit and paid 270,000 euros (about $288,000) for a vehicle that visited parishes offering medical screenings for older people.
Tirabassi added that Crasso was asked for a feasibility study on the six million euro loan. The funding was then disbursed in the financing plan of the Secretariat of State. Milanese was later sent by the pope to negotiate with Torzi.
It also emerged that the Holy See negotiated the London deal with no lawyer. But both Tirabassi (in constant contact with Perlasca) and Crasso were at the negotiating table. Tirabassi stressed that Crasso’s presence was directly requested by Perlasca and almost amounted to an imposition. On the other hand, Crasso said that he “shouldn’t have gone” because he had nothing to do with the operation. “It was the biggest mistake of my life,” he lamented.
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The Secretariat of State had entrusted Credit Suisse with the management. But Crasso emphasized that he was acting for his bank and then for Sogenel, a company that he set up which continued to work with Credit Suisse.
But managers are not required to account for all investments, and the important thing is that they follow through on their mandates. Crasso also referred to a 2016 formal statement by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin which made it clear that there were no limits on where Credit Suisse assets could be invested.
For this reason, even Mincione, when he was entrusted with the fund of the London building, was not subject to regular, thorough checks.
Financial transactions were handled above all by Perlasca, head of the administration, through whose hands practically every authorization passed.
Crasso also spoke of a letter received on Nov. 11, 2019, from Peña Parra, asking to “liquidate in the best possible way and with diligence” the assets of the Secretariat of State managed by him and “not to proceed with other investment” through the Centurion Global Fund, which Crasso owned.
“A letter of this kind creates immeasurable damage to the Holy See,” Crasso replied, asking for an audience with Peña Parra that he obtained on Nov. 16. “Peña Parra agreed not to limit the management,” Crasso wrote after.