Vatican Police Raid Top Cleric’s Home, Office Over London Property Scam

News: World News
by Jules Gomes  •  •  February 18, 2020   

Documents, computer seized from Msgr. Alberto Perlasca's residence

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VATICAN CITY ( - Vatican investigators raided the office and residence of the investment manager of the Vatican Secretariat of State Tuesday morning and seized documents and computer equipment as part of its ongoing probe into the financial scandal involving the purchase of a London property worth $220 million.

According to a press release from the Vatican press office, the search was ordered by Promoter of Justice Gian Piero Milano and Deputy Alessandro Diddi on the premises of Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, former Head of Administrative Office of the First Section of the Secretariat of State.

Perlasca headed the office responsible for managing Vatican investments and for overseeing the administration of the Peter's Pence fund. On July 26, Pope Francis appointed him Promoter of Justice at the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura — chief prosecutor of the Vatican's supreme court.

60 Sloane Ave., the property at the heart of the scandal

The Vatican statement confirmed that the raid was carried out "in the context of the investigation into financial investments and the work of the Secretariat of State."

The raid on Perlasca's home and office was in connection with "what emerged from the first interrogations" of five suspended officials, the statement said. Similar raids in October resulted in the suspension of four staff at the Secretariat of State as well as the director of the Financial Information Authority.

Two of the four suspended officials at the Secretariat of State were registered directors of a London holding company controlled by the secretariat.

Church Militant reported on the financial scandal involving a deal made by the Secretariat of State to purchase a 183,000-square-foot property in London consisting of a former warehouse belonging to the Harrod's department store slated for conversion into luxury apartments.

The raid on Msgr. Perlasca comes a day after Cdl. Angelo Becciu, the former deputy at the Secretariat of State, told Italian media that "not everything was clear" about the London investment.

However, Church Militant reported that the transaction took place under Cdl. Angelo Becciu, a papal ally promoted to cardinal in 2018 by Pope Francis.

When Becciu worked as deputy Secretary of State, he authorized the purchase of this property on 60 Sloane Ave. in the London neighborhood of Chelsea for over $200 million.

The suspicious financial situations, which aside from their possible unlawfulness, are not in keeping with the nature and purpose of the Church, and have generated disorientation and anxiety in the community of the faithful.

Funds for the initial purchase were drawn from the collections for "Peter's Pence," an annual appeal to Catholics worldwide to support the activities of the pope.

Church Militant also reported on leaked documents revealing the scope and magnitude of the financial scandal engulfing the Vatican, implicating both Cdl. Pietro Parolin, Secretariat of State, and his deputy, Abp. Edgar Peña Parra, considered, respectively, the second- and third-most powerful men in Rome.

Msgr. Alberto Perlasca

Another $250 million from Peter's Pence appears to have been spent on fraudulent legal firms established to cover the purchase of the London property.

On opening the 91st Judicial Year of the Vatican City State Tribunal on Saturday, Pope Francis referred to the investigation into the management of funds and real estate as "suspicious financial situations, which aside from their possible unlawfulness, are not in keeping with the nature and purpose of the Church, and have generated disorientation and anxiety in the community of the faithful."

Born in Como on July 21, 1960, Perlasca was ordained a priest in 1992. He graduated in Law at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart and in Canon Law at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

In Oct. 2003, he was hired at the Legal Office of the General Affairs Section of the Secretariat of State and incorporated into the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See. From April 2006 until May 2008 he worked in the Apostolic Nunciature in Argentina. He then returned to the Secretariat of State at the Administrative Office, for which he has been responsible since July 2009.

Perlasca is a member of the Board of Directors of the Pension Fund, Health Care Fund and the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital. He is a member of the Board of Auditors of the Joseph Ratzinger — Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation.

"The Office of the Promoter of Justice and the gendarmes are continuing with investigations of administrative-accounting nature, and in their cooperation with external investigative authorities," Tuesday's Vatican statement said.

The investigation was initiated by the Vatican judiciary in response to reports received from internal supervisory financial organisms, from the Vatican Bank (IOR), and the Auditor General.

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