Vatican court sentences cardinal to 5.5 years in prison over role in investment scandal News
Walkerssk / Pixabay
Vatican court sentences cardinal to 5.5 years in prison over role in investment scandal

A Vatican court sentenced Cardinal Angelo Becciu to 5.5 years in prison Saturday after the prelate was convicted of embezzlement and fraud in relation to a real estate investment scandal that cost the Vatican millions of Euros. The Cardinal was also handed a €8,000 fine and barred from holding public office in the Holy See. Becciu’s nine codefendants received sentences ranging from a €1,750 fine to 7 years imprisonment for their roles, while an additional codefendant was acquitted of all charges.

Becciu, former Substitute for General Affairs in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, was accused of involvement in a failed London real estate investment that resulted in a €139 million loss for the Holy See. The Vatican also charged Becciu with providing €575,000 in Secretariat of State funds, meant to aid a Columbian nun kidnapped in Mali, to an associate who used them for personal expenses. Furthermore, prosecutors say Becciu provided Secretariat funds to his brother’s cooperative. 

Businessman Raffaele Mincione and broker Gianluigi Torzi, who received 5.5 and 6 years in prison, respectively, played key roles in the scandal. Mincone initially owned the London property that the Secretariat invested in, and Torzi usurped a controlling interest once it was clear that Mincone was squandering the Secretariat’s funds.

Prosecutors initially requested a 7.25-year sentence for the Cardinal. While the court’s decision was almost two years below the prosecutors’ recommendation, codefendants Enrico Crasso and former Secretariat of State official Fabrizio Tirabassi both received seven-year sentences over their investment dealings.

The court ordered the confiscation of €219,254,692 from the defendants, who will also have to pay a total of €201,810,000 in civil damages to the Vatican, plus legal costs.

In 2022, the Holy See established an investment committee to oversee the handling of Church funds following the discovery of the scandal. Shortly after, the Vatican moved to consolidate its foreign investment accounts under the purview of its central bank, to be overseen by the new committee.