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Vatican indicts 10 over UK property deal

July 3, 2021

Cardinal Angelo Becciu is one of 10 individuals facing charges such as extortion, abuse of office and fraud. The indictment relates to a €350 million investment in a London real estate venture.

Cardinal Angelo Becciu
Cardinal Angelo Becciu is one of ten people caught up in a real estate scandalImage: Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters

The once-powerful head of the Catholic Church's saint-making office faces trial over a €350 million ($415 million) investment in a London real estate venture, the Holy See said in a statement Saturday.

Cardinal Angelo Becciu, along with nine others, will be prosecuted under the Vatican's legal system.

Becciu was relieved of his duties within the Vatican administration last September after Pope Francis told him he had been accused of siphoning off charity funds to help his siblings.

Now a Vatican criminal tribunal has indicted the 73-year-old Italian, along with four other Church officials and an Italian businessman on charges of extortion, abuse of office and fraud.

An Italian intelligence expert was also indicted on alleged embezzlement charges.

The suspects have denied wrongdoing.

The Catholic Church: Power and abuse of power?

July 27 trial date after 2-year investigation

The tribunal president, Judge Giuseppe Pignatone, set July 27 as the trial date, according to Saturday's statement.

A 487-page indictment was issued after a two-year investigation into how one of the oldest departments in the Church administration, the Secretariat of State, managed its asset portfolio, much of which is funded by donations.

Vatican prosecutors accuse the main suspects of siphoning millions of euros from the Holy See in fees and other losses.

Becciu helped engineer the initial London investment when he was the chief of staff in the Secretariat, prosecutors say.

The scandal has resulted in a sharp drop in financial contributions to the Church and prompted the Pope to strip the office of its ability to manage the money.


Brothers in spirit

jsi/mm (AP, dpa)