On Nov. 2, the Financial Times reported that the previous owner of the Vatican's stake in the London building is Raffaele Mincione, the owner of Athena Capital. The newspaper reported that, through his company, the stake was sold to the Vatican at "a significantly higher price than [Mincione] had paid for it two years earlier."
Senior sources at the Prefecture for the Economy and APSA also told CNA that efforts to enforce transparency at the Vatican's central bank and Secretariat of State played a decisive part in the ouster of the first Auditor General, Libero Milone, in 2017.
Milone has stated that he was forced to resign under threat of prosecution because he was pressing for information about hundreds of millions of euros held off-books in Swiss banks and elsewhere by the Secretariat of State and other Vatican dicastries.
"Some people got worried that I was about to uncover something I shouldn't see," Milone told the Financial Times on November 2. "We were getting too close to information that they wanted to be secret, and they fabricated a situation for me to be thrown out."
At the time of his forced departure, Cardinal Becciu defended his part in removing Milone saying that the auditor, appointed by Pope Francis in 2015, had exceeded his mandate.
"He went against all the rules and was spying on the private lives of his superiors and staff, including me," Becciu said in 2017. "If he had not agreed to resign, we would have prosecuted him."
Sources at the Prefecture for the Economy and APSA, the Vatican's central bank, told CNA that among internal Vatican objections raised at the time of the deal was that the transaction fees incurred during the purchase of the building were "well above norms."
"It was certainly enough to raise serious questions about the wisdom of the deal," one offical told CNA. "Whether these fees were agreed out of naivete or complicity, I cannot say."
Last week, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said the investment was a one-off, and the fund in question appeared to be "well managed." He said that he was working to clear up questions about the project.
"We are working to clear up everything. This deal was rather opaque and now we are trying to clear it up," Parolin said.
Becciu served as "sostituto," or second-ranking official at the Secretariat of State from 2011-2018, when Pope Francis named him a cardinal and moved him to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.
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Cardinal Becciu declined to respond to questions from CNA.