The promoter of Vatican justice, Alessandro Diddi, has asked for a prison sentence of 7 years and 3 months for the Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, accused of corruption. This is the first time in history that the office of the Vatican prosecutor has asked for a prison sentence for a cardinal. The final verdict of this long procedure should be known before next December.
On Wednesday, July 26, the promoter of justice requested a total of 73 years and a month in prison, as well as various forfeitures and fines, for the 10 accused in the context of the management of the funds of the Secretariat of State.
Cardinal Becciu, who continues to defend his innocence, is accused of aggravated misappropriation of funds and abuse of power during the years when he was deputy general of the Secretariat of State, a post he held in 2011.
In addition, Alessandro Diddi accuses the cardinal of having presented “false documents” which hindered the investigation.
The court process – very complex due to the size of the case on which the prosecutors have been working on for months, as well as the multiple ramifications of the case – is centered on the Vatican’s purchase of a building in London, UK, in 2014, for transformation into luxury apartments with a total investment of 350 million euros.
The purchase was indeed made. However, the property could not be renovated because it did not meet the requirements of London urban planning law and permits were not obtained.
The failure of the operation caused serious damage to the Vatican coffers, between 130 and 180 million euros, of which 55 million euros are attributable to the investment in the London building alone.
Cardinal Becciu, then assistant to the Vatican Secretariat of State, allegedly used his position, according to the prosecution, to obtain 300 million euros in loans from the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) and an unsavory Swiss fund to finance the real estate operation.
In addition, the fallen porporato is accused of having misappropriated money from the Vatican for a charity run by his brother and of having paid off Cecilia Marogna, one of his co-defendants in the trial, to create files containing compromising information about Vatican staff.
This is the largest financial crime trial of the modern era in the Vatican, with 10 accused and a long list of charges, including embezzlement, money laundering, abuse of power, embezzlement, and fraud.
The main players in the London case are the defendants Raffaele Mincione and Gianluigi Torzi, who negotiated the purchase, as well as Vatican investment manager Enrico Crasso, who helped them.
It should be noted that Pope Francis intervened in various ways during the investigation and trial, either to express the hope of a desired outcome or to change the rules of procedure.
He intervened, for example, by asking Cardinal Becciu to resign from his position as Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and took away from him all the rights associated with the cardinalate, including participation in the conclave, on 24 September 2020, after the appearance of reports accusing him of financial irregularities.