According to sources close to the Prefecture for the Economy, Tirabassi has been involved in managing several financial transactions at the secretariat which are now being examined by financial investigators at the Vatican.
"When you look at the ledgers, you see large sums coming in, moving around very quickly through different accounts and funds, crossing through different jurisdictions, and returning to the Vatican again in reduced amounts – sometimes all within a day," a former Vatican official told CNA.
"If pressed on where the money is coming from, where it went and why, and where money is leaking out, there is no clear answer at all," a senior source told CNA. "About the only consistent thing you can identify is the resistance in the secretariat to explaining anything."
The October raid also led to the suspension of Msgr. Mauro Carlino, who served as the head of the Information and Documentation Office in the Secretariat's First Section, which oversees Church and curial governance on behalf of the pope. Prior to that, Carlino was personal secretary to Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who was sustituto of the Secretariat of State between 2011 and June 2018, functioning as the Vatican City's effective prime minister.
On Nov. 4, CNA reported that in 2015 Cardinal Becciu seems to have attempted to obscure $200 million loans on Vatican balance sheets by cancelling them out against the value of the property purchased in London, an accounting maneuver prohibited by financial policies approved by Pope Francis in 2014.
The loans were extended in part by BSI, a Swiss bank with a long track record of violating money-laundering and fraud safeguards in its dealings with sovereign wealth funds.
In 2016, BSI was the subject of a damning report by FINMA, the Swiss financial regulator, which concluded that the bank was in "serious breaches of the statutory due diligence requirements in relation to money laundering and serious violations of the principles of adequate risk management and appropriate organization."
Among the breaches identified by FINMA were regular "pass-through" transactions in which funds were rapidly transferred between accounts before being sent back out of the bank.
The apparent attempt to obscure the loans was detected by the Prefecture for the Economy, then led by Cardinal George Pell. Senior officials at the Prefecture for the Economy told CNA in 2019 that when Pell began to demand details of the loans, especially those involving BSI, Becciu called the cardinal to the Secretariat of State for a "reprimand."
Becciu reportedly told Pell the cardinal was "interfering in sovereign business" by looking into the secretariat's dealings with BSI.
In February, 2020, a second former senior official at the Secretariat of State was suspended following raids on his home and office by Vatican investigators.
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Msgr. Alberto Perlasca served under Becciu for nearly a decade as head of the administrative office of the secretariat's First Section until July 2019, when he was transferred to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Holy See's supreme court. Perlasca worked as a prosecutor at the court, until his office and home were raided in February.
In a July 2019 statement, the Holy See confirmed that the raid had been ordered by Vatican City prosecutors as part of an ongoing investigation into financial misconduct by officials at the Secretariat of State and followed the "interrogation" of previously suspended staff members, including Carlino.
One canonist working with the Signatura confirmed to CNA last week that Perlasca's office has been cleared out and his caseload reassigned.
While the Holy See has not commented on the individuals removed from their positions during financial investigations beyond the April 30 statement, sources close to the secretariat told CNA last week both Carlino and Perlasca have been dismissed from curial service.
Ed. note: CNA has removed portions of this story that relied on the reports of others but could not be independently verified.