Friday, March 24, 2023

Former Vatican bank chief convicted of embezzlement | Corruption News

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Angelo Caloia becomes the highest Vatican official to be convicted of a financial crime.

Former Vatican bank manager Angelo Caloia was convicted of embezzlement and money laundering and sentenced to eight years and 11 months in prison, making him the highest-ranking Vatican official to be convicted of a financial crime.

The Vatican court also convicted on Thursday Gabriele Liuzzo, 97, and his son Lamberto Liuzzo, 55, both Italian lawyers consulting the bank.

Caloia ran the bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), from 1989 to 2009. The 81-year-old Italian was tried for corrupt real estate transactions.

He has been accused of conspiring with others to earn millions from the below-market sale of over 20 IOR properties in Italy and laundering the proceeds in Switzerland.

The court established that the defendants “had pocketed part of the money paid by the buyers, or in any case money belonging to the IOR … for a total of around 19 million euros (23 million euros). dollars), ”the Vatican said in a statement.

Prosecutors claimed the illicit gains were worth a total of 59 million euros ($ 71 million), but judges found no evidence of wrongdoing for some of the 29 transactions examined.

Liuzzo and Lamberto were sentenced to eight years and eleven months and five years and two months respectively.

The court ordered the sequestration of approximately 38 million euros ($ 46 million) in the bank accounts of the defendants who were frozen and a payment of more than 20 million euros ($ 24 million) of damages to the IOR and its real estate company.

The defendants maintained their innocence and sought to call as witnesses former secretaries of state and Vatican cardinals who sat on the bank’s oversight committee, in a sign they intended to demonstrate that the cardinals were aware of the sales and approved of them.

It was not immediately clear how the sentences would be carried out or whether the two main defendants would actually serve a prison sentence given their age.

But the lawsuit was significant given that it showed the Vatican’s willingness to sue its own for shady business deals that have long characterized the troubled finances of the Holy See.

Other suspicious transactions

The IOR, founded nearly 80 years ago, has been embroiled in a long list of political and financial scandals, earning a reputation as a money laundering haven for Italian politicians and mafia groups.

He cleaned up his act over the past decade, as part of the Vatican’s financial transparency reforms carried out by Francis and his predecessor, Benedict XVI.

Vatican prosecutors are currently investigating another suspicious real estate transaction, involving luxury property in central London, which could lead to a criminal trial.

And earlier this week, they announced the imminent start of an embezzlement trial against Cecilia Marogna, known as “the Cardinal’s Lady” for her connections to disgraced Cardinal Angelo Becciu.

She billed the Vatican around 500,000 euros ($ 608,000) for informal intelligence work, but is suspected of using some of the money to splurge on luxury goods.

Marogna was hired by Becciu, who was fired from a powerful Vatican job in September by the Pope after accusing him of siphoning off charitable funds from the Vatican to help his siblings.

Becciu has professed his innocence, and since his dismissal he has not been publicly charged with any crime.


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