Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 9, 2020 / 17:00 pm
For those following the serpentine turns of the ongoing Vatican financial scandals, the arrest of Italian businessman Gianluigi Torzi on Friday was a major event.
But exactly how “major” it will be could be determined by how narrowly prosecutors focus on Torzi himself, or if they see his arrest as the first step in unwinding the “network of companies in which some officials of the Secretariat of State were present” acknowledged by the Vatican on Friday.
In the meantime, news of the arrest has given rise to a spat of “social distancing” from those connected to the London property deal at the center of the investigation. Those most vocally distancing themselves from Torzi, insisting his alleged crimes are self-contained, may hope for a fairly limited discussion of the wider Vatican financial dealings in which Torzi played a role.
Cardinal Angelo Becciu, under whose direction the Secretariat of State first became involved in the now famous London property development, insisted he never had dealings with the businessman. Torzi, he said, was unknown to him, arriving on the scene in late 2018, after he had been promoted to cardinal.
While he is apparently unfamiliar with Torzi’s dealings at the secretariat, Becciu confidently predicted that “he will have to answer for a specific crime for which he alone is responsible.”
Becciu’s comments were substantially echoed by his former subordinate and close collaborator at the secretariat, Msgr. Alberto Perlasca. The monsignor told an Italian newspaper on Monday that Torzi only became involved with the project in October 2018, and that he had personally accused him of fraud.
Perlasca, whose home and office were raised during investigations, also preemptively distanced himself from any accusations, suggesting that, while he was in charge of the secretariat’s administrative office, he had little to do with managing finances for the curial department — saying that all important decisions were made either by his subordinates, or by his superiors.
Raffaele Mincione, the businessman who, for years, managed hundreds of millions in secretariat funds, investing them in his own projects and companies, has also spoken publicly to distance himself from Torzi, claiming to know him only slightly and blaming the secretariat for inserting him into the deal.