The sale was arranged through – according to Italian media – another businessman, Gianluigi Torzi. Torzi reportedly earned 10 million euros from his participation.
In early 2019, Becciu's replacement as sostituto, Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, became aware of the details of the deal and sought advice from Rene Brülhart, then the head of the Vatican's Financial Information Authority.
Vatican Gendarmes executed a raid at the Secretariat of State and AIF offices on Oct. 1 as part of an investigation related to the investment. Five people were suspended as a result, including two Secretariat employees listed as directors of the Vatican's UK holding company now managing the building investment, London 60 SA Ltd.
A director of London 60 SA Ltd charged with leading the development project is Luciano Capaldo, a UK resident and UK-Itallian citizen. Capaldo was originally registered with Companies House in London as a Vatican citizen, raising still-unanswered questions about why the Secretariat of State might have conferred Vatican citizenship on a layman living in London.
Capldo himself has several business links to Torzi. FEG International Assets, a Luxembourg based company formerly run by Torzi, is a major investor in Capaldo's Italian architecture and development company, Imvest, which was raided by Italian financial authorities in May 2018 on charges of preparation and submission of false budgets.
FEG and Torzi were named recently in a commercial fraud suit in London's High Court. Also named as respondents in the suit was Odikon Services PLC, of which Torzi and Capaldo were also directors. Odikon, currently suspended by the UK's Financial Conduct Authority, is a major shareholder in Meti Capital, which is itself the major shareholder in Imvest.
During a recent in press conference, Pope Francis was asked about the London investment. While confirming that he had personally authorized the October raids, he emphasised that proof of corrupt or illegal activity was "not yet clear," before concluding that "it passed what passed: a scandal,"
"They have done things that do not seem clean," the pope said. Last week, the Holy See press office confirmed that several investments and funds used by the Secretariat of State were under investigation.
"Lines of enquiry which may help clarify the position of the Holy See with respect to the aforementioned funds and any others, are currently being examined by the Vatican judiciary, in collaboration with the competent authorities," a statement said.
Ed. note: CNA has removed portions of this story that relied on the reports of others but could not be independently verified.
Ed Condon is a canon lawyer and worked as Catholic News Agency's Washington DC editor until December 2020.