"Are you sure that that building was a waste? But there has been no doubt that if sold now it would make double what it cost - 148 million euros when I was there, if there were other [additional expenses] then ask who made them, I was no longer there."
On Saturday, the cardinal dismissed the idea that Torzi’s arrest would cause a broader “earthquake” in the curia, calling it “a journalistic fantasy.”
Becciu’s interview concluded with his declaration that “[Torzi] will have to answer for a specific crime for which he alone is responsible. And the Vatican will continue as before.”
CNA has reported that between 2014 and 2018, the Secretariat of State paid around $300 million for the building, bought from Italian businessman Raffaele Mincione. Mincione arranged the secretariat's initial investment through an investment fund through which he managed hundreds of millions of euros for the Secretariat of State.
Completion of the sale was conducted through Gutt SA, a Luxembourg-registered holding company owned by Torzi.
According to a press statement from the Holy See, Torzi was arrested Friday in connection with “well-known events connected with the sale of the London property on Sloane Avenue, which involved a network of companies in which some officials of the Secretariat of State were present.”
In May, CNA reported that in November 2018, a lay official at the Secretariat of State was made a director of Gutt, for a period of one month. That official, Fabrizio Tirabassi, was suspended from his position in October, 2019, following a raid by Vatican investigators.
In his statements to Adnkronos over the weekend, Becciu repeated previous denials that the investment used funds from Peter’s Pence, a fund of donations sent to the Holy See by Catholics and dioceses around the world to support the ministry of the pope.
On Saturday, Vatican News reported that the investments made by the secretariat in Mincione’s Athena Global Opportunities Fund amounted to 200 million euros. It reports Mincione invested this money in the building, which he owned, and other ventures of Mincione’s, which it described to be a “conflict of interest.”
On Nov. 4, 2019, CNA reported that in 2015 Cardinal Becciu seems to have attempted to obscure on Vatican balance sheets nearly 200 million in loans connected to the transaction by cancelling them out against the value of the property in London, an accounting maneuver prohibited by financial policies approved by Pope Francis in 2014.
That 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 Becciu told Pell the cardinal was “interfering in sovereign business” by looking into the secretariat’s dealings with Swiss bank BSI.
BSI was closed by Swiss banking authorities in 2017, following an investigation which found systematic violations of anti-money laundering protections.
On Saturday, Becciu said that Torzi’s involvement in the London property deal came only after he had left the secretariat.
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In May, CNA reported that Swiss authorities had frozen tens of millions of euros in several bank accounts as part of the Vatican’s investigation into the deal.
On June 6, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported that among the funds frozen were several million under the control of Msgr. Alberto Perlasca.
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 by investigators in February.
In an interview with the newspaper Il Giornale on Monday, Perlasca denied that he had any Swiss bank accounts and is “ready to sue anyone who claims otherwise.”
Perlasca said that “there was considerable confusion, I hope not knowingly, between personal accounts and accounts of the Secretariat of State, on which, however, I had no signature power since only the superiors had it. I only had the power to sign in conjunction with another superior. I don't remember ever having to use it, because there never was a need. In other words: I couldn't move a single cent.”
Perlasca said he personally lodged a complaint against Torzi in 2018, alleging fraud by the businessman.