The conviction of Cardinal Angelo Becciu brings to an end an unprecedented trial

The conviction of Cardinal Angelo Becciu brings to an end an unprecedented trial

The sun is shining in Rome, but Sardinia seems so far away. On Saturday, December 16, the Vatican City Court sentenced one of the most prominent figures of the Holy See, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who is originally from the island, to five and a half years in prison and a fine of 8,000 euros. He will no longer be able to hold any public office. The bishop appeared, along with nine other people, in a case of questionable financial investments that proved disastrous for the smallest country in the world.

The verdict read by Judge Giuseppe Pignatoni on Saturday in mid-afternoon, for more than twenty minutes, concludes a long trial that is in many ways historic. If other important figures in the Church have already appeared before civil courts elsewhere in the world, this is the first time that a cardinal has been tried by secular people within the Vatican itself. The measure itself, which aims to be particularly transparent with hearings open to the press, is also unprecedented.

It took 86 sessions over more than two years to try to clarify one of the biggest financial scandals in Vatican history. The matter should not stop there. After the verdict was read, Fabio Vignone, Cardinal Becciu’s lawyer, immediately announced his intention to appeal: “We respect the ruling but we will definitely appeal it.”And he warned.

Read also: Vatican corruption scandal: A cardinal at the center of a financial trial

Investing in a building in London

The story due to which the bishop was convicted of embezzlement and fraud began in 2014. At that time, as an alternative to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a key position in the Vatican’s top administration, which he held until 2018, Cardinal Angelo Becciu authorized an investment of $200 million (183 million euros) to buy part From a building in London.

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an interior ministry of the Vatican, had a total of $700 million in financial assets at the time. Therefore the investment was large. By converting the building acquired by the fund into luxury apartments, the Vatican Secretariat of State hoped to achieve a good deal.

Unfortunately, after several questionable financial decisions and actions, they end up purchasing the entire building before reselling it at a loss. Leaving almost the entire amount initially agreed upon on the table.

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Two more cases of mismanagement

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