Vatican City ( Associated Press) — The former director of the Vatican’s financial watchdog testified Wednesday that Pope Francis asked him to help the Vatican Secretariat gain full control over London assets, once again the Pope and his top deputies. kept in the limelight. His role in the problematic deal.
Tommaso di Ruza is one of 10 people accused in the Vatican’s massive financial lawsuit, which focuses on the secretariat of the state’s 350 million euro investment in a London luxury property. Vatican prosecutors have accused brokers and Vatican officials of robbing the Holy See of millions of euros in fees, most of it donations from the faithful, and then extorting 15 million euros from the Vatican to gain full control over the property. .
Di Ruza, the former director of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority, or AIF, for allegedly failing to withhold a 15 million payment to broker Gianluigi Torzi and for allegedly failing to alert Vatican prosecutors to a dubious deal alleging misuse.
Di Ruza testified on Wednesday that he neither had the authority to block the payment, nor enough at the time to characterize Vatican prosecutors as a suspect under international norms or the Vatican’s own anti-money-laundering laws. There was evidence.
In addition, he testified that the AIF’s involvement in the deal was correct, noting that as soon as he became aware of the deal, he launched a multi-pronged, international financial intelligence investigation, which was active when the Vatican Police On October 1, 2019, their headquarters were raided.
“I have always acted in compliance with the rules and to protect the interests of the Holy See,” he said.
The case follows a contract signed between Torzi and the Secretariat of State in November and December 2018, which states that the Vatican will hold 30,000 shares in the holding company of the London estate and Torzi 1,000. But Torri’s shares were the only ones with voting rights, meaning they controlled the building.
By December 2018, the Vatican realized it had an empty box in its hands, and scrambled to figure out a way to gain full control of the building: either by buying Torzi’s shares or by initiating legal action against what the Vatican considered. used to go. a fraudulent deal.
No. 2, or officiating in the Secretariat of State, Archbishop Edgar Pea Parra, has already told prosecutors to base it on Francis’ desire to “turn the page” and spend as little as possible to gain control of the building. Instead of taking Torzi to court, the Vatican decided to pay him.
Di Ruza testified that he met with Francis on or around March 26, 2019, and that Francis told him he wanted to have “direct management without middlemen” in the property.
Di Ruza said that Pea Parra had sought the opinion of the AIF to obtain a loan from the Vatican Bank to obtain a loan of 150 million euros to eliminate the mortgage on the property, known as the IOR. The AIF was asked to ensure that the loan was compliant, which Di Ruza said.
Di Ruza said the AIF launched an investigation into the deal on March 18, 2019, sending requests for financial information to financial intelligence units of half a dozen countries, shortly after learning about it from Pea Para.
But asked by prosecutor Gianluca Perón why he had not filed a suspicious report with Vatican prosecutors at the time, Di Ruza replied: “Let me ask a question: Who should I have condemned? Substitute?”
He testified that by the time Vatican police raided its headquarters on October 1, 2019, the AIF investigative file contained 65 documents from intelligence investigations inside and outside the Vatican. But he said the investigation had not yet been completed and there was still no response.
He said that under the Vatican’s own laws, they need to have ‘a well-established motive to suspect money laundering or terror financing activity’…”
Prosecutors dropped an earlier charge of embezzlement against Di Ruza after he was forced to redo his investigation due to procedural errors. Once again, prosecutors dropped the charge.