On Thursday, Italian news site Adnkronos reported that the Vatican has been officially notified that both Torzi and Mincione are under investigation for money laundering.
The Athena investment in Sierra One is significant for several possible reasons.
If the Athena Global Opportunities Fund acquired the stake in Sierra One, whose debt portfolio was under management by Torzi’s company Sunset Enterprise, before the Vatican’s separation from Mincione, it raises the possibility that Church funds were used to invest in debt products issued by mafia-linked companies.
If the stake was acquired while the Vatican was in the process of divesting from its investments with Mincione, it points to a transaction linking Mincione’s Athena fund and Torzi’s company Sunset, while Torzi was working on the Vatican’s behalf to broker the purchase of the London property from Mincione.
If the Sierra One investment was made after the conclusion of the Vatican’s separation from Mincione, it suggests the possibility that nearly 10 percent of the 40 million euros transferred by the Vatican to Mincione, an arrangement brokered by Torzi, was then directed into a Torzi-managed project.
CNA asked both Mincione and Torzi if they were aware of the other’s involvement in Sierra One, and if the investment had been discussed between them.
A spokesman for Torzi declined to respond to questions “because of the in-progress inquiry.”
CNA also asked Mincione if he was aware of links of companies in Sierra One to organized crime, and if Athena’s investment in the bond had generated any return. A spokesperson for Mincione did not respond to CNA’s questions.
After Torzi’s arrest in June, Vatican state media accused Mincione of a “conflict of interest” in the deal. Mincione distanced himself from Torzi in comments to the press.
Speaking to ADN Kronos in June, Mincione said Torzi was a “counterpart,” not a “partner,” and characterized their personal connection casually as “two Italians in London,” and saying they only knew each other slightly, since their offices were off the same square in London.
In July, CNA reported that in the months before Torzi was asked by the Holy See to act as middleman for the final purchase of the London property from Mincione, another company, Pop 12, owned by Mincione secured a multi-million-euro loan from Torzi’s company Sunset.
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In addition to Torzi’s June arrest, Vatican prosecutors have also had contact with Mincione over his role in managing funds for the Secretariat of State. In July, a search and seizure warrant was issued by an Italian magistrate and served on Minicone in a Roman hotel by Italian state police. That warrant was issued on request of Vatican investigators, who seized electronic devices, including phones and iPads.
Mincione and his company WRM Group have sued the Secretariat of State in a U.K. court, and are asking a judge to rule that he “acted in good faith” in his dealings with the Vatican.
Vatican prosecutors have been examining the Secretariat of State’s financial dealings with Mincione for nearly two years. Several Vatican officials have had their homes and offices raided and been suspended as part of the investigation.
Last week, Cardinal Becciu was ordered by Pope Francis to resign the rights and privileges of a cardinal, and as prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, a role he had held since his departure from the secretariat in 2018.
It has been widely reported that Becciu’s resignation was triggered by mounting evidence of financial misconduct during his time at the secretariat, with Vatican sources indicating that, following his arrest, Torzi has agreed to cooperate with investigators.