A police car patrols on June 8, 2020 on Via della Conciliazione in Rome near The Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica (Rear) as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP)
An Italian broker who was arrested for his involvement in the questionable majority stake purchase of a property in London by the Vatican's Secretariat of State was granted a conditional release after 10 days in a Vatican jail cell. In a statement released June 15, the Vatican said Gian Piero Milano, Vatican chief prosecutor, and his deputy, Alessandro Diddi, granted a conditional release to the accused broker "following the outcome of the interrogations to which Mr. Gianluigi Torzi was subjected in the context of the investigation into the sale and purchase of the building at 60 Sloane Avenue in London." His release was granted after Torzi gave "a detailed memorandum" as well as "numerous attached documents deemed useful for the reconstruction of the facts under investigation," the Vatican said. The Italian broker was arrested June 5 after he was interrogated at the Vatican prosecutor's office regarding his involvement in the London property deal which first came to light in early October when Vatican police conducted a raid on offices in the Secretariat of State and the Vatican financial oversight office. According to internal documents leaked by the Italian news magazine L'Espresso, Vatican authorities are investigating how the Secretariat of State used $200 million to finance the property development project in London's Chelsea district in 2014.
Torzi served as the middleman in the Vatican Secretariat of State's eventual purchase of the majority stake in the London property in 2018 from London-based Italian financier, Raffaele Mincione, Vatican News reported. While the Vatican incurred debts from the purchase, Torzi received an estimated 15 million euros for brokering the deal. Several Vatican officials were investigated for their involvement in the deal, including Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, the former head of the Vatican Secretariat of State's administrative office. According to the Vatican, Torzi faces charges of extortion, embezzlement, aggravated fraud and money laundering. If found guilty, he faces up to 12 years in prison.
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