Vatican trial focuses on troubled Carige bank

Vatican trial focuses light on troubled Carige bank

Business By Region Central Italy News

Pope Francis’s efforts to clean the tarnished image of Holy See finances brings into focus the thwarted takeover of Carige bank in 2018. Vatican prosecutors allege one of Carige’s leading shareholders embezzled money from the Catholic church.

Weakened by mismanagement and bad loans, Carige bank was placed under special administration by the European Central Bank in early 2019. This followed a failed attempt led by one of its main shareholders, Raffaele Mincione, to take control.

Mincione is one of the ten people indicted by the Vatican over a multi-million-euro scandal.

Vatican indicts for misuse of Catholic church money

Vatican prosecutors allege Mincione bought a stake in Carige with embezzled money. These included funds raised from faithful Catholics and intended for the needy.

Nine other people, including prominent Cardinal Angelo Becciu, are to stand trial alongside Mincione. They are accused of a multi-million-euro scandal that also involves the Vatican’s purchase of a building in London.

The trial is due to begin on July 27.

Defendants claim innocence

Mincione denies any wrongdoing. His Italian lawyer Luigi Giuliano declined to comment. He said only, “he wants to prepare the defence arguments in the utmost confidentiality” ahead of the trial.

The former Carige shareholder resigned from the lender’s board in September 2018. Two months later, Mincione sold the London property to the Vatican. The deal was negotiated by another Italian middleman, Gianluigi Torzi, who also faces trial.

Both Torzi and Cardinal Becciu deny the charges.

Prosecutors believe the Vatican paid over €350million for the building, including debt, which had been acquired by Mincione for €129 million pounds a few years before.

Prosecutors say Mincione used part of £40 million of Vatican money to repay a loan from Torzi for the failed bid to take control of Carige’s board.

“Until now, the sources available for public consultation have never hinted that Mincione had financed the takeover of Carige with funds from the (Catholic Church),” prosecutors said in their 487-page charge sheet released earlier this month.

Torzi’s lawyer told Reuters, however, prosecutors had yet to prove that part of the 40-million-pound loan was transferred by Mincione to her client. She stressed there was no link between the two deals.

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