As part of the investment, the Secretariat used money borrowed from a controversial Swiss bank known for violating safeguards against money laundering and fraud, and then attempted to disguise the loans through an accounting maneuver prohibited by Vatican financial transparency regulations.
In October, Pope Francis authorized raids at the offices of the Secretary of State, as well as the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority (AIF), which monitors for suspicious financial transactions. Five people were suspended as a result, including two Secretariat employees listed as directors of London 60 SA Ltd, the Vatican’s UK holding company now managing the building investment. The pope later called the matter “a scandal,” while also emphasizing that proof of illegal activity was “not yet clear.” The Holy See press office confirmed in early December that several investments and funds used by the Secretariat of State are currently under investigation.
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Here are the major figures and developments in the ongoing story of the London investment scandal:
Raffaele Mincione – An Italian businessman who served as financial advisor for the Vatican Secretariat of State. He helped the Secretariat invest millions of dollars in Peter’s Pence funds, which are donated by Catholics around the world. Mincione encouraged the Secretariat to buy a stake in a London building he owned, through funds they had invested in another one of his companies, and then gradually sold them the property, marking up the price each time and charging them management fees throughout the process, leaving him with millions of euros in personal profit. Mincione has also been involved with other high risk business ventures, and was involved with a company fined in 2016 for misleading investors.
BSI – A controversial Swiss bank known for violating safeguards against money laundering and fraud. Vatican sources have confirmed that a significant portion of the Secretariat of State’s $200 million loan to invest in the 60 Sloane Ave property came from BSI. The bank was dissolved by Swiss authorities for failure to report suspected money laundering and adhere to other anti-fraud regulations.