Church: Vatican financial trial: Cardinal sentenced to prison

In the major financial trial surrounding questionable million-dollar deals, a cardinal was sentenced to prison by a court in the Vatican for the first time in the history of the Catholic Church.

Church: Vatican financial trial: Cardinal sentenced to prison

In the major financial trial surrounding questionable million-dollar deals, a cardinal was sentenced to prison by a court in the Vatican for the first time in the history of the Catholic Church. The Vatican Court sentenced Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu to five years and six months in prison for his involvement in a money-losing real estate scandal. Never before had a Curia cardinal been sentenced to prison by a Vatican court. Becciu's lawyers announced that they would appeal the verdict.

The Vatican prosecutor Alessandro Diddi originally demanded a prison sentence of seven years and three months and a high fine for the 75-year-old Becciu. Nine other people were charged with him.

One of the largest criminal trials in the Vatican

The criminal trial is one of the largest in the Vatican to date. For the first time, a high-ranking cardinal appeared before the court as a defendant. The process, which has been going on for more than two years, was essentially about the loss-making purchase of a luxury property in the London district of Chelsea by the Vatican Secretariat of State, where Becciu was an important department head for several years. The deal went wrong because the Vatican invested more money than planned. In the end there was a loss in the three-digit million range.

Meanwhile, the investigations into the questionable million-dollar deal in London uncovered further crooked dealings and machinations within the Vatican. Vatican law enforcement accused the Italian churchman and nine other defendants of, among other things, extortion, money laundering, fraud, corruption, embezzlement and abuse of office.

Massive damage to image

The process caused massive damage to the image of the smallest country in the world. As a result of the allegations, the Sardinian native lost his rights as a cardinal and would therefore not have been allowed to take part in a papal election (conclave). However, Becciu, who was once considered a "papàbile", i.e. a possible candidate for the papacy, was allowed to continue to call himself a cardinal. At that time, Pope Francis also removed him from the position of head of the authority for saints and beatification processes.

Pope Francis and the Vatican administration drew conclusions from the real estate scandal. The pontiff then reorganized the responsibilities in the Curia. He took away the power to dispose of assets from the Holy See's powerful Secretariat of State and other authorities. This is now the responsibility of the Vatican Property Administration (Apsa) and the Vatican Bank IOR.

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