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Vatican Court Convicts Cardinal on Embezzlement and Fraud

I think they're missing the point here. Sure this guy took a little money to help support his aging grandmother, but in over 50 years of servicing partitioners he didn't sodomize one child! Not a mention of that anywhere in this media hit job.


At least any kids we know of. I think we have no right to judge this man.


Besides it's not like he was key advisor to the pontiff. Oh, he was? Oops...sorry I shouldn't have mentioned anything.


Vatican Court Convicts Cardinal on Embezzlement and Fraud

Verdict marks stunning fall for Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, once spoken of as a possible pope


By Francis X. Rocca, WSJ

Updated Dec. 16, 2023 3:37 pm ET



Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, a former adviser to Pope Francis, was convicted and sentenced to prison.


ROME—A Vatican court on Saturday found Italian Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu guilty of embezzlement and fraud and sentenced him to 5½ years in prison, marking a stunning fall from grace for a man who was once one of the most powerful advisers to the pope.

Becciu, who has denied any wrongdoing, was the first cardinal to be tried in Vatican City’s criminal court. “We reiterate the innocence of Cardinal Angelo Becciu and we will appeal,” his lawyer, Fabio Viglione, told reporters after the verdict and sentence were announced.

The 75-year-old Italian cardinal was the highest-ranking of 10 defendants in the 2½-year Vatican trial, which centered on losses from a failed London property investment. The charges also concerned the alleged misuse of money intended to help free a kidnapped nun, but allegedly spent instead on resort vacations and luxury goods from Prada and Louis Vuitton.


Pope Francis has said the case shows that his efforts to reform the Vatican have been effective. But defendants’ lawyers argued that the trial highlighted the contrast between the legal standards of a modern state and the Vatican’s power structure as an absolute monarchy.


Francis changed Vatican laws several times during the investigation in ways that the lawyers said favored the prosecution and violated the right to a fair trial, including granting investigators broader authority to eavesdrop on suspects.


In 2020, before Becciu was indicted, Pope Francis removed him from his job as head of the Vatican office overseeing the canonization of saints, with no public explanation. Becciu retained his title but lost his most important right as a cardinal: participating in a conclave to elect a future pope.


The court on Saturday found both Becciu and Raffaele Mincione, an Italian financier based in London, guilty of embezzlement for their roles in the Vatican’s investment of $200 million in a fund managed by Mincione. The judges described the investment, made under the authority of Becciu’s office at the Vatican, as highly speculative and risky.


Mincione, who has denied wrongdoing, was also found guilty of money laundering and sentenced to 5½ years in prison. Mincione said in a statement that he intended to appeal the conviction.


Becciu’s lawyers argued that when he was responsible for Vatican investments, he relied on a designated assistant who evaluated proposals and dealt with outside financial consultants including Mincione.


The Vatican eventually converted its London investment into ownership of a large building in the upscale London district of Chelsea that was earlier controlled by Mincione. After investing more than $400 million, the Vatican sold it for about $225 million last year.

In an interview last month, Mincione blamed the loss on an unexpected drop in London property values after Brexit. He suggested the Vatican would have made a profit if it had kept the property and carried out a planned conversion into apartments.


“Mincione has always maintained that he acted properly, that the Vatican was at all times aware and supportive of the various relevant decisions made in relation to the London property, and that the property was at all relevant times evaluated by independent experts,” a spokesperson said in a statement on Saturday.


Prosecutors also charged Becciu regarding his relationship with Cecilia Marogna, an intelligence consultant who met Becciu in 2016 and offered her services to the Vatican.

The Vatican sent Marogna more than €570,000 (equivalent to about $625,000 today) to help free a Colombian nun kidnapped by Islamist militants in Mali. The nun was freed in 2021 after nearly five years in confinement.


Prosecutors argued that Marogna spent much of the money on brand-name luxury goods and costly vacations in Spain and Italy. Marogna denied any wrongdoing. The court found her guilty of aggravated fraud and sentenced her to three years and nine months in prison. A lawyer for Marogna didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The judges also found Becciu guilty of embezzlement for sending €125,000 to a nonprofit organization in Sardinia run by his brother. The cardinal said the money was for elderly and unemployed people.


Write to Francis X. Rocca at francis.rocca@wsj.com

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