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World News

Vatican indicts nine people and four companies over London property venture

by Press Association

The Vatican’s criminal tribunal has indicted nine people and four companies on charges including extortion, abuse of office and fraud in connection with the Secretariat of State’s 350 million-euro investment in a London property venture.

The tribunal president, Judge Giuseppe Pignatone, set July 27 as the trial date, according to a Vatican statement.

Four former Vatican officials, including two officials from the Secretariat of State, were indicted, as well as Italian businessmen who handled the London investment.

Also indicted on alleged embezzlement charges was an Italian intelligence expert.

Vatican prosecutors accuse the suspects of bilking millions of euros from the Holy See in fees and other losses related to other financial dealings.

The suspects have denied wrongdoing.

One of the main suspects in the case, Gianlugi Torzi, is accused of having extorted the Vatican out of 15 million euros to turn over ownership of the London building in late 2018.

Torzi had been retained by the Vatican to help it acquire full ownership of the building from another indicted money manager who had handled the initial investment.

Vatican prosecutors allege Torzi inserted a last-minute clause into the contract giving him full voting rights in the deal.

The Vatican hierarchy, however, signed off on the contract, with both Pope Francis’ number two, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and his deputy approving it.

Neither was indicted.

Vatican prosecutors have produced evidence suggesting they were hoodwinked by an Italian lawyer, who was also indicted on Saturday, into agreeing to the deal.

Torzi has denied the charges and said the accusations were the fruit of a misunderstanding.

He is currently in London pending an Italian extradition request.

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