The auditor not only disclosed a climate of hostility for his work in the Vatican and especially on the part of the Secretariat of State, but he also went so far as to point out that advice on investments was not just about the soundness of investments.
This statement was made with all the competence of an auditor, who is, above all, to ensure that the accounts are in order and compliant with international standards.
Cassinis Righini also stressed that that was not the way to manage the money from Peter’s Pence, and when asked, he said he was confident that it was indeed Peter’s Pence’s money.
The question of whether this is the case or simply a case of “mistaken identity” has been raised previously. The Secretariat of State has had an account since 1939 called the “Conto Obolo,” (Obolo is the Italian for “pence”).
The auditor also contested the operations of the Secretariat of State. He said that the Vatican department’s assets of more than 900 million euros were almost all in Switzerland. He spoke of 516 million euros or 564 million euros on two occasions.
A question of audits
The Secretariat of State has always had autonomy in the management of funds. So much so that there is a rescript from Pope Francis of Dec. 5, 2016, which reaffirms the independence of the Secretariat of State.
The rescript ended a dispute in 2016 when accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was tasked with auditing the Vatican accounts.
The Secretariat of State opposed the transparency initiative’s brief and then redefined the contract with PwC to play an assisting role, “adaptable to the Holy See’s needs.”
The aftermath of this was reflected in the testimony of Cassinis Righini. He described a clash between those who wanted to defend the Holy See and those who, in reality, wanted to make a company out of the Holy See.
In a climate of tension, it is easy to create enmities. Cassinis Righini also stressed that it would have been better not to pursue the contract with Gianluigi Torzi.
(Story continues below)
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Torzi had taken over the management of the London Palace real estate fund, keeping the unique 1,000 shares with voting rights for himself. Cassinis Righini said that once he was involved in the analysis of the contracts, he would immediately let it be known that the negotiations would have to be stopped.
But the negotiations were not interrupted. According to the available testimonies and interrogations, this decision was made by Monsignor Alberto Perlasca, then head of the administration of the Secretariat of State, who also dealt with the negotiations in London without a lawyer from the Holy See.
Yet Perlasca was not on the list of the first 27 witnesses presented by the promoter of justice. The prosecution might have decided that Perlasca’s documented testimony was already sufficient.
The president of the Vatican Tribunal, Giuseppe Pignatone, urged to include Perlasca among the witnesses. However, it turned out that Vatican prosecutor Alessandro Diddi wanted to summon him only toward the end of his list of witnesses. Certainly, Perlasca’s absence from the first number of witnesses was striking.
Who made what money?
Another aspect is the management of Vatican finances, which has been family-oriented for a long time.