Report: Slovenian authorities charge Vatican ‘security consultant’ with money laundering

By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA

Police officer on duty at St Peter’s square in Vatican City. / Credit: Maciej Matlak/Shutterstock

Rome Newsroom, Mar 24, 2021 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- Slovenian authorities have reportedly filed preliminary charges against an Italian woman on suspicion of laundering funds illegally obtained from the Vatican through Slovenian-registered companies.

According to Slovenian daily Večer, criminal investigators in the capital city of Ljubljana have filed the preliminary charges against Marogna and a Slovenian citizen they think may have been working with her.

Marogna is expected to face a Vatican trial for alleged embezzlement after she was accused of misappropriating Vatican funds from payments of more than 500,000 euros (around $600,000) she received from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State through her Slovenia-registered company in 2018 and 2019.

The accusation is that funds intended for humanitarian purposes were used for personal expenses, including stays at luxury hotels and purchases of designer label handbags.

According to Večer, Slovenian investigators have found that Marogna in 2019 transferred up to 575,000 euros to several Slovenia-based companies before spending it or transferring it to other accounts.

Večer reported March 22 that Slovenian police, in cooperation with the Office for the Prevention of Money Laundering and foreign security authorities, froze 175,000 euros in one company’s account and carried out a house search on a Slovenian citizen suspected of cooperating with Marogna in laundering money.

Marogna has claimed that she worked for the Secretariat of State as a security consultant and strategist. She acknowledged receiving hundreds of thousands of euros from the Vatican but insisted that the money was for her Vatican consultancy work and salary.

Media have claimed that the payments were made under the direction of Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the former sostituto of the Secretariat of State and a fellow Sardinian. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Marogna was arrested in Milan last year on an international warrant issued by the Vatican through Interpol. She was released from jail 17 days later and in January the Vatican announced it had dropped its request for Marogna’s extradition from Italy just as Italian judges were due to rule on it.

The Vatican also said in January that the trial against Marogna for alleged embezzlement would begin soon.

According to the Sardinia Post, in February Marogna lodged a complaint in the Brescia prosecutor’s office for alleged crimes committed against her in connection with her arrest.

She reportedly claimed that she was “deprived of freedom unjustly” from the day of her arrest until the lifting of the obligation to register her presence with Milan police in mid-January.

Marogna submitted the complaint through her new legal representation, after her previous lawyers, who specialize in corporate criminal law, parted ways with her in early February.

She also appealed to the Court of Review of Milan last month against the seizure of her cellphone as part of the Vatican investigation against her.

The smartphone is reported to have been recently sent to Vatican investigators after being in the possession of Italian investigators since October.

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