The Vatican began its second day of trial on Wednesday against ten financial crime suspects. Cardinal Angelo Becciu, former chief of staff of the Vatican Secretariat of State, is the most senior person in the Vatican on trial. The allegations concern offenses such as fraud, embezzlement, abuse of power, money laundering and corruption.
Last year, Pope Francis accepted Becciu’s resignation after the cardinal was linked with a controversial real estate deal in London. In 2014, the Vatican Secretariat of State invested in a former Harrods store in the expensive Chelsea neighborhood, where luxury apartments would be built. The Vatican ultimately lost 150 million pounds (176 million euros) on the investment.
Francis has sacked five Vatican officials because of the London accord. An investigation was launched to determine whether bureaucrats were getting ripped off or taking advantage of it themselves. This research has led to the current process.
Becciu’s lawyer expects “countless pieces of evidence and witnesses to prove his innocence in relation to any allegation.” Other suspects in the trial include financial brokers, Vatican officials and a lawyer.
Francis made the reorganization of the finances of the Catholic Church a pillar of his papacy. “I think this process marks a turning point that could lead to greater credibility of the Holy See in the economic field,” said Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, Vatican Minister of Economy. “The fact that this process is taking place means that some internal controls are working: the allegations emanate from the Vatican. “
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