Vatican investigators have been given access to Swiss banking documentation connected to long-time Vatican investment manager Enrico Crasso.
A Swiss federal court’s decision on this is the latest development connected with the ongoing financial scandal on the purchase of a London property by the Holy See’s Secretariat of State in 2018.
Although the court order was issued on Oct. 13, it was published only in the last week of November, Catholic News Agency reported on Nov 27.
The documents include the financial records of the company, Az Swiss & Partners, which was set up by Crasso in 2014 after leaving Credit Suisse.
Although the company wanted to block access to its records by the Vatican investigators, Swiss judges observed that “when foreign authorities ask for information to reconstruct criminal asset flows, it is
generally considered that they need the entirety of the relative documentation, to clarify which persons or legal entities are involved.”
Vatican prosecutors were working with Swiss authorities since December last year.
In response to the Vatican’s request, Swiss authorities have frozen tens of millions of euros in bank accounts and have handed over banking documents and records to Vatican prosecutors.
Crasso is reported to be instrumental in introducing the Secretariat of State to businessman Raffaele Mincione, through whom the secretariat purchased the London building in various stages between 2014 and 2018.
The Vatican noted that the pledging of Vatican funds on deposit in Swiss banks, including Peter’s Pence, to secure hundreds of millions of euros in loans from the same banks “represents strong
circumstantial evidence that it represented a ploy to avoid making [the transactions] visible.”
The attempt to hide the loans off-books was unearthed by the Prefecture for the Economy, then led by Cardinal George Pell.
Earlier this month, Crasso defended himself, and said that the investments he made were “no secret.”
In an Oct. 4 interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera, Crasso also denied managing “confidential” accounts.
Influential Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, demoted by Pope Francis in September, was number two in the Secretariat of State. His name is linked to the purchase of the luxury building in London.
Cardinal Becciu is accused of giving Crasso control over millions of euros of Vatican investment funds, including Peter’s Pence.
Crasso also manages an investment fund — Centurion Global Fund. The Vatican invested millions of euros into that fund.
Cardinal Becciu has denied all wrongdoing.
“Particular attention should be paid to the investments made in London and the Centurion fund, from which it is necessary to exit as soon as possible,” Pope Francis said in his letter to the Secretariat.
If that was not possible, the Vatican should at least deal with them “in such a way as to eliminate all reputational risks,” the pope noted.
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