Cardinal Becciu implicates the Pope in the Vatican corruption scandal

The macro-trial that has been held since July in the Vatican, and which implicates a dozen people – among them, for the first time in history, a cardinal – in a corruption scandal, this week has had a new and unexpected chapter. One of the main defendants for the sale of luxury real estate and the creation of a diplomatic network parallel to that of the Holy See -spies included- implicated in the plot the Pope himself.

Cardinal Angelo Becciu involved Francis in the alleged payment of one million euros to Al Qaeda to obtain the release of the religious Gloria Cecilia Narváez, kidnapped in Mali for four years and released last October.

Becciu, released by the Pope from the pontifical secrecy to be able to testify at the trial, claimed to have hired Cecilia Marogna – whom the Italian media call the "lady of Becciu" – to negotiate the rescue of the nun. Marogna is also being tried for embezzlement, specifically for having received 575,000 euros for secret brokerage and that she spent, among other things, on Chanel bags. It was she, says the cardinal deposed by Bergoglio, who put him in contact with a British company, The Inkerman Group, which mediates kidnappings.

"In one of the working audiences -reported Becciu in a 'spontaneous statement' of 50 pages-, I explained the matter to the Pope. He was glad that efforts were made to free the nun and immediately understood the need not to expose the Vatican to unnecessary and, in fact, damaging publicity. He gave me the go-ahead to proceed, and when I asked if I should speak to the Gendarmerie commander, he said no, inviting me to take personal responsibility for the initiative and adding that the The matter had to be kept confidential between him and me, precisely to prevent the news from leaking and the aforementioned risks being run," he said.

With the alleged papal approval, Becciu met in London with three Inkerman employees, naming Marogna as intermediary, to avoid "the slightest suspicion of traceability" of the Vatican's presence. The analyst would collect an amount once the nun's release had taken place. "Regarding the costs of the operation, those responsible for Inkermann informed me that they could not make a specific estimate, given the uncertainty of the activities to be carried out, which could well be even higher than one million euros. (...). Les I assured that I would respond to his availability once I had spoken with the right person and, naturally, I did not mention the Holy Father (...). I must say that each step of this operation was agreed with the Holy Father", assured Becciu, who He ended his speech with a curious expression: "How can it be that the person of the Holy Father has been exploited, creating an unprecedented scandal in the Church?"

In what Becciu was not so blunt was in relation to the sale of the Sloane Avenue palace in London, for which the Holy See has been able to lose 454 million euros from the Pence of Saint Peter, a fund from the churches of the whole world with donations so that, directly, the Pope fights against poverty in the world and that, until this scandal, was managed by the Secretary of State. In the years in which the alleged scam occurred, Angelo Becciu was the Substitute (number two) of this Vatican body.

For the Vatican Prosecutor's Office, Becciu and the rest of the defendants made the purchase of the complex possible through the Athena Capital fund, to which up to seven incomes of 200 million dollars from the Pence were made. The Vatican promoter of Justice (prosecutor) estimates that, only in the London palace, some 454 million euros have been allocated using "totally abnormal schemes". Another fund, the Centurion, based in Malta, was able to use almost 71 million euros from the Vatican in investments in companies such as the toy company Giochi Preziosi, the production of films such as Rocketman or Men in Black or the acquisition of a property in Rome for 13 million euros with the false excuse that it was an investment by the Bambino Gesú hospital.

Regarding the London building, the prosecution estimates that Becciu may have participated in two of the offers to repurchase the building, amounting to more than 350 million euros. Yes, the authorization of the Cardinal for the investment of 200 million dollars from the Pence of Saint Peter in the Athena fund seems proven "without a minimum of guarantees and, above all, without any control to prevent the offerings of the faithful paid to subsidize charitable works will be used to finance reckless speculative incursions”, according to the Prosecutor's report.

Similarly, the Vatican prosecutor's office accuses Becciu of having made unjustified payments to several companies, including a brewery owned by one of his brothers. A mechanism similar to the one used to help friends in the nunciatures of Cuba or Angola, as well as some "scandalous" works in the Nunciature in Egypt, billed to the carpentry shop of another Becciu brother. In his statement, the cardinal wanted to minimize the scandal, and denied that the Pope had "doubts" about his participation in the purchase of the London palace, and circumscribed Bergoglio's punishment in the alleged participation of his brother in the diversion of funds for his business.

According to Becciu, the Pope had told him that an Italian weekly was about to publish that his brother "had put his hand" in the management of funds for a diocese on the island of Sardinia: "I confess that I was speechless, that accusation was so absurd and unfounded, as the facts finally show today," recalled the cardinal, who clarified that "of the 125,000 euros that I assigned from the Secretary of State to Cáritas in Ozieri, 25,000 euros were used for machinery in the Cooperative's furnace and 100,000 Euros are still in the bank account at the bishop's disposal. So where did the money come from to enrich my family? This is an unsubstantiated accusation. However, it was the mother of all my misfortunes!" The interrogation of the cardinal will continue on May 18, with questions from the prosecutor. Today, no one rules out that his defense even considers asking the Pope himself to declare.

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