While AUSTRAC has forwarded information to police at both the state and federal level, local police in Victoria have been criticized for their handling of the Pell case.
In 2013, Victoria Police opened Operation Tethering, an open-ended investigation into possible crimes by Cardinal Pell. At the time the operation began, no alleged victims had come forward against the cardinal and there had been no criminal complaints made against him. Although they had found no victims or criminal accusations, in 2015 the program was expanded and put on a more formal footing.
In 2017, Pell was charged with sexually abusing two minors. He was convicted in 2018 on the evidence of a single victim-accuser, the second alleged victim died before the trial. The second alleged victim had denied on several occasions that he had ever been sexually abused.
In December, CNA reported that, as early as 2014, senior police officials in Victoria discussed that the investigation into Cardinal Pell could be used to deflect public scrutiny from a corruption scandal in the force, linked to organized crime, which had become a media firestorm in Victoria.
Cardinal Pell served as the first prefect for the Secretariat of the Economy in the Vatican, a department created by Pope Francis in 2014 to bring coherence and transparency to the administration of curial finances.
From 2011-2018, Cardinal Becciu served as sostituto at the Secretariate of State. While there, he was known to have a strained relationship with Cardinal Pell.
CNA has reported that the two cardinals clashed repeatedly over Pell's attempts to reform Vatican finances and to institute reforms ordered by Pope Francis.
Following the allegations that Becciu used Vatican funds in an attempt to interfere in Pell's trial in Australia, on Oct. 17 Becciu's lawyer, Fabio Viglione, said, "regarding the everlasting attention of some journalists to Cardinal Pell's trial," Becciu "is compelled to reiterate vigorously that he has never interfered with it in any way whatsoever."
The lawyer also said "to protect and defend his honor, so gravely damaged," Becciu may seek legal recourse against some news organizations for their continued reporting of "an alleged, albeit non-existent activity to taint the evidence of Cardinal Pell's trial."