Vatican cardinal resigns in wake of London property investigation.

One of the Vatican’s most powerful cardinals has resigned suddenly amid an ongoing investigation into the suspected misuse of Catholic charitable funds for investments in luxury London properties.

The Vatican said on Thursday evening that Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, the Italian head of the church’s office for appointing saints, had relinquished his rights as a cardinal after a meeting with Pope Francis.

The fall of one of the Vatican’s most powerful figures comes as Holy See prosecutors pursue a sprawling international investigation into the finances of the Secretariat of State, the Vatican’s powerful central administration arm, where Cardinal Becciu served as second-in-command of from 2011 to 2018.

In a short statement the Vatican did not specify why Cardinal Becciu, aged 72, had offered his resignation, which means he loses the right to vote in appointing a future pope, but the move is exceptionally rare for a sitting cardinal.

Cardinal Becciu was unavailable for comment, but told reporters from an Italian news wire on Thursday evening: “I prefer silence.”

His role at the secretariat included administering hundreds of millions of euro of charitable donations to the church by Catholics around the world. In that position in 2014 he personally authorised a $200 million property investment using such funds in a large office building being converted into luxury apartments in London’s Chelsea district, in a deal involving an Italian former banker Raffaele Mincione.

Last year Vatican police raided the offices of its own central administration office and seized documents linked to the London investment, and suspended a number of staff who had worked in the Secretariat, including Cardinal Becciu’s former secretary.

Standard practice

The Holy See subsequently said it believed the London deal had caused the Vatican significant financial losses, and its police raided the private residence of Alberto Perlasca, a senior official inside the secretariat who had managed the investments under the authority of Cardinal Becciu.

Earlier this year the Vatican arrested and charged Gianluigi Torzi, a London-based businessman who acted as a middleman in the complex London property deal, for what it said was “extortion, embezzlement, aggravated fraud and self laundering”. Mr Torzi, who was held in the Vatican for more than a week before being released, has denied any wrongdoing.

Cardinal Becciu has in public comments repeatedly defended the London property investment, saying it was consistent with standard practice and did not result in the Vatican losing money. Mr Perlasca has also denied any wrongdoing, and has said he was acting on the instructions of his superiors.

Mr Mincione, who has denied any wrongdoing, has launched legal action against the secretariat in London’s high court, seeking a ruling that he acted in good faith in the deal, which made him a significant personal profit.

The last cardinal to renounce their rights was Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington DC, who did so in 2018 after being investigated for sexual abuse before later being defrocked. In 2015 the Scottish cardinal Keith O’Brien also relinquished his rights as a cardinal following allegations of sexual abuse. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2020

Related news

Trump says public sick of coronavirus ‘idiots’ like Fauci.

President criticises immunologist in call with staff and complains about focus on virus

Macron says ‘fear will change camps’ in battle with radical Islam.

France begins crackdown against alleged Islamic radicals three days after beheading of teacher

Bill that overrides UK’s Brexit deal denounced in House of Lords.

‘The damage is to our standing in the world,’ says former chief justice Igor Judge

Covid-19: Wales to begin two-week lockdown amid concern for over-60s in Britain.

Talks between British government and political leaders in Manchester fail to reach agreement about putting city into Tier 3

Covid-19: Belgium imposes curfew to battle ‘tsunami’ of infections.

Brussels says situation worse than spring as one in four tests in capital proving positive

Merkel snubs German state leaders in direct Covid-19 appeal.

Diminishing political unity contributing to public fatigue with restrictions, experts fear

1 2

Bolivia’s MAS set for return to power a year after annulled election.

Presidential candidate significantly increases party’s vote share with leader still in exile

1 2

Covid-19: Dutch royals cut Greek getaway short after public outcry.

Prime minister forced to suggest he was at fault after royals’ fresh coronavirus misstep

1 2

Ultra-Orthodox schools reopen in Israel in unprecedented act of civil disobedience.

Religious seminaries resume classes in defiance of government’s Covid-19 directives

1 15

‘No-one helps us ... we are on our own.’ Nagorno-Karabakh’s brutal war

Three-week-old conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia has settled into war of attrition

By continuing to browse World News (UAZMI), you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and agree to the use of cookies