The Vatican is putting effort into minimizing its expenses as they plan to restart and lose money at a very minimal amount as possible. Pope Francis clearly intended to finish a big London real estate deal.
Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, the third-highest official in the Vatican, testified in court on Thursday regarding a financial scandal involving the Holy See's purchase of a London property.
Vatican Conned to Buy A Luxurious Property
According to Los Angeles Times, ten people, including a broker named Gianluigi Torzi, are on trial for alleged financial crimes related to the purchase of the property and subsequent dealings. Peña Parra supervised discussions with Torzi and the last stage of the London transaction in 2018-2019.
The prosecutor alleges that Torzi extorted 15 million euros ($15.9 million U.S.) from the Vatican in exchange for ownership of the building, which he denies. As the Vatican opted to suddenly quit another fund that had made an investment in the London property, ownership of it was transferred to Torzi's Gutt SA fund at the end of 2018. The defendants say they did nothing illegal.
As per ABC News, Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra accused broker Gianluigi Torzi of misleading the Vatican, but he also named his former deputy, Archbishop Alberto Perlasca, who was accused of concluding the deal with Torzi without receiving permission or having the legal authority to sign contracts.
When Peña Parra knew about of the deal, Perlasca had already signed the contracts, giving Torzi effective control of the property. Peña Parra realized that the Vatican had been tricked at a meeting with the Pope and two external people who looked at the contracts.
Pope Francis gave instructions that they should restart and lose assets as little as possible. Peña Parra stated that Francis said that he realized that it was all just a deception. The trial involves 10 people, including Torzi, who has denied any wrongdoing.
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Negotiation of an Exit Strategy Rather Than Proceeding to Legal Action
The article in Associated Press News states that in the following months, the Vatican negotiated with Torzi to develop an exit strategy rather than pursue legal action. Torzi's lawyers initially proposed a payment of 25 million euros, which was eventually negotiated down to 15 million euros. Vatican officials expressed disappointment with the outcome but felt that they had no other choice.
The investigation was further complicated by the involvement of Perlasca, another suspect in the deal, who later became a key witness for the prosecution after cooperating with authorities. The scandal came to light after the Vatican sought a 150 million euro loan from its bank to pay off the mortgage on the Chelsea property, which the bank initially agreed to but later declined, citing suspicions about the deal.
The Vatican eventually secured the loan from another office, but officials expressed frustration at the delay caused by the bank's refusal. The scandal has scrutinized the Vatican's financial practices and sparked calls for greater transparency in its operations.
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