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‘Security consultant’ says Cardinal Becciu asked her to compile ‘files’ on Vatican personnel

May 6, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
St. Peter’s Dome. / dade72 via Shutterstock.

Rome, Italy, May 6, 2021 / 05:05 am (CNA).

Cecilia Marogna, a self-styled security consultant under investigation by the Vatican for embezzlement, has claimed that Cardinal Angelo Becciu asked her to create dossiers of incriminating information on Vatican personnel.

In an interview aired on the Italian investigative news program “Report” May 3, Marogna alleged that she was asked to create “dossieraggio,” an Italian neologism meaning a file or dossier of confidential information on a person, especially for the purpose of blackmail.

Marogna claimed that the request came from Cardinal Becciu, then the number two at the Secretariat of State.

Asked if these files were to be compiled also on people inside the Vatican, Marogna responded: “Also, yes. Then there was a discussion of the immoral conduct of some prelates.”

A lawyer for Cardinal Becciu, reached by CNA on Thursday, said there was “no official response” to Marogna’s claims at this time.

In the program, Marogna was asked if she was part of “in short, a parallel secret service,” which she affirmed, adding that it worked “in interaction with other parallel international secret services.”

“Sounds like a spy film…” the journalist said, to which Marogna responded with a smile, “Yeah, the discussion is this, exactly.”

Marogna has been under investigation by the Vatican since reports emerged last year that she received hundreds of thousands of euros from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State in connection with Becciu, and that she had spent the money on luxury goods and vacations.

Marogna acknowledged receiving the money but insisted that the funds went to her Vatican security consultancy work and salary.

Media have claimed that the payments were made under the direction of Becciu, the former sostituto of the Secretariat of State and a fellow Sardinian. Becciu, who was stripped of the rights and privileges of a cardinal by Pope Francis in September 2020, 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 after 17 days and an extradition request by the Vatican was dropped in January.

The Vatican also announced in January that a trial would begin soon against Marogna for alleged embezzlement, but no notifications about the state of the trial have been given since then.

In March, it was reported that Marogna also faces charges in Slovenia on suspicion that she used her Slovenia-registered companies to launder money illegally obtained from the Vatican.

In the May 3 program, details of Marogna’s connection with members of Italy’s secret service were also reported. Marogna claimed to have at one time worked in “cooperation” with Luciano Carta, then the director of Italy’s foreign intelligence service, the AISE. The program claimed that Becciu directed her to create relationships with the heads of Italy’s secret services.

The program also touched on Marogna’s long-standing involvement with an Italian masonic political organization known as the Roosevelt Movement. Marogna confirmed the connection, defending it as “for professional formation, obviously, yes.”

On April 2, 2016, Marogna was appointed as a member of the particular secretariat for relations with groups, associations, and relevant subjects of civil society within the Roosevelt Movement.

Marogna is close to the founder and president of the Roosevelt Movement, Gioele Magaldi, who is a mason of the Grand Orient of Italy and a “worshipful master,” a senior officer of a masonic lodge.

Magaldi wrote several articles online last year in defense of Marogna when she was jailed in Milan.


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In anti-corruption law, Pope Francis seeks to quash Vatican ‘envelope’ culture with ban on gifts over $50

April 29, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
The dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. / Luxerendering/Shutterstock.

Vatican City, Apr 29, 2021 / 04:50 am (CNA).

As part of a sweeping new anti-corruption law, Pope Francis on Thursday declared that officials of the Roman Curia should no longer accept personal gifts with a monetary value over 40 euros (about $50).

The new rule appears to be an effort to quash the Vatican “envelope” culture, in which large monetary donations are made to bishops and cardinals working in the Roman Curia.

These gifts have been blamed for contributing to corruption in the Church when they were used between high-level Church officials to seek favors, most notably in cases like that of ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

Pope Francis’ April 29 apostolic letter, issued in the form of motu proprio (“on his own impulse”), added this rule to the General Regulation of the Roman Curia, along with other requirements ensuring that Vatican personnel who handle the Vatican’s economic affairs are not involved in financially corrupt or illegal behavior.

In the motu proprio on “provisions on transparency in the management of public finance,” Pope Francis said that, “according to Scripture, fidelity in small things is related to fidelity in important ones.”

Referencing Luke 16:10, he added, “just as being dishonest in matters of little consequence is also related to being dishonest in important matters.”

The pope said that the new law was intended to bring the Holy See and Vatican City State further in line with international best practices on corruption and financial transparency, building off of his May 2020 motu proprio on transparency in the awarding of public contracts.

The new measures were necessary to “prevent and fight, in every sector, conflicts of interest, methods of patronage, and corruption in general,” Francis said.

He added that those who work in or are connected to the Vatican “have a particular responsibility to make concrete the fidelity of which the Gospel speaks, acting according to the principle of transparency and in the absence of any conflict of interest.”

Under the new regulation, the cardinals leading dicasteries or other offices, and senior management and administrators of the Holy See and Vatican City State, whose jobs require handling money, will be required to sign a document every two years attesting that they and their finances are not connected to crime.

In the statement, they must declare that they do not hold shareholdings or interests in companies that operate “with purposes and in sectors contrary to the Social Doctrine of the Church.”

They must also attest that all goods owned by them originate from lawful activities and are not the profit or product of crime. In addition, they must say that they have never been convicted of a crime and are not under any criminal trial or investigation for crimes of corruption, fraud, terrorism, money laundering, tax evasion, trafficking, exploitation of minors, or participation in a criminal organization.

The employee or official must also promise to not hold any cash or investments, including shareholdings or interests, in companies and businesses on a list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes, or in countries considered at high risk for money laundering or terrorist financing.

The declaration will be held in the Secretariat for the Economy’s employee files and a copy will be kept in the Secretariat of State. The Secretariat for the Economy is authorized to verify the truth of the statements and false declarations will be subject to “a serious disciplinary offense.”

The new regulations must be enforced within 90 days of the law’s publication.


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Will the Vatican pass the Moneyval test?

April 23, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0

The Vatican flag. / Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Vatican City, Apr 23, 2021 / 07:15 am (CNA).
Next week, Moneyval will issue a long-awaited progress report on how the Holy See has strengthened its juridical framework to counter money laundering. The repo… […]

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Italian judge issues arrest warrant for Gianluigi Torzi, who brokered Vatican property deal

April 12, 2021 CNA Daily News 0
Police officer on duty at St Peter’s square in Vatican City. / Maciej Matlak/Shutterstock

Rome Newsroom, Apr 12, 2021 / 10:05 am America/Denver (CNA).

An Italian magistrate has issued an arrest warrant for Gianluigi Torzi, a broker who is under investigation due to his involvement in the Vatican’s controversial London property purchase.

Judge Corrado Cappiello signed the warrant for Torzi based on the investigation by police in Rome into his suspected fraudulent billing, money laundering, and other financial crimes in collaboration with three of his associates, the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reported April 12.

Torzi is currently located in the United Kingdom and has not been served with the warrant.

The Italian broker is under investigation by the Vatican for his role in facilitating the Secretariat of State’s purchase of a London property on 60 Sloane Avenue in 2018. The Vatican alleges that in doing so, Torzi was part of a conspiracy to defraud the secretariat of millions of euros.

“It is alarming how easily Gianluigi Torzi and his collaborators managed to organize fraudulent operations,” Judge Cappiello wrote, according to the Italian newspaper.

“In addition to the criminal proceedings pending within Vatican City State for which he was recently arrested, Gianluigi Torzi, has police records for unlawful financial activities, fraud, issuing and using invoices for non-existent transactions and is also being investigated for fraudulent bankruptcy … within the Tag Communications group,” he said.

Torzi was arrested by the Vatican last summer and held in custody for a little more than a week on charges of two counts of embezzlement, two counts of fraud, extortion, and money laundering.

Last month, a British judge reversed the seizure of Torzi’s accounts that had been requested by Vatican prosecutors. 

Judge Tony Baumgartner of Southwark Crown Court stated that the Vatican’s “non-disclosures and misrepresentations are so appalling that the ultimate sanction” to reverse the seizure of the assets was appropriate.

The secretariat bought the property at 60 Sloane Avenue in London in stages between 2014 and 2018 from Italian businessman Raffaele Mincione. Torzi brokered the sale, earning millions of euros for his role in the final stage of the deal.

Torzi sold the secretariat the 30,000 majority shares in Gutt SA, the holding company through which the London property was purchased, while he retained the 1,000 shares with voting rights.

The Vatican claims Torzi was “secretive and dishonest” when he retained the voting shares, while Torzi argues that everything was transparent and communicated to Vatican officials in conversation and in documents signed by them.

In his ruling, Baumgartner sided with Torzi, who has denied wrongdoing, saying that the claim that the broker was “secretive and dishonest” was not supported by the evidence before him and a “misrepresentation” by Vatican prosecutors.

Reuters reported that a separate arrest warrant states that Torzi billed the Vatican for a total 15 million euros for work that it said was not carried out. It also stated that it remains unclear whether Italian authorities will issue an international warrant for Torzi’s arrest.


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

March 24, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

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.