A new hearing in the Vatican trial was held on Thursday, November 24, 2022. The session began with a dramatic turn: Justice promoter Alessandro Diddi announced the launch of a new investigation against Cardinal Angelo Becciu.
The starting point of this new instruction is linked to the contents of a telephone call between Cardinal Becciu and the pope, made public during the audience in the hall of the Vatican Museums which houses the trial.
During the trial’s 37th hearing, the assistants were able to listen to the entirety of this conversation, during which the cardinal asks the pope, three days before the start of the trial, to confirm that it was he who authorized the payments to Cecilia Marogna for the release of a Colombian nun kidnapped in Mali.
This call of more than five minutes, dated July 24, 2021, while the cardinal was in his apartment in Piazza del Sant'Uffizio, was recorded by a relative of Cardinal Becciu, Maria Luisa Zambrano.
This recording was found on Zambrano's phone by the Oristani Guardia di Finanza, as part of an investigation by the Parquet of Sassari into the management of the Spes Cooperative, headed by Tonino, Cardinal Becciu's brother, and the Cardinal's family.
The documentation was sent in letters rogatory to the Office of the Promoter of Justice and presented in court today. Alessandro Diddi explained that this material, along with other pieces, has now triggered a new investigation in the Vatican for “criminal association,” including Cardinal Becciu.
Among these new pieces, the promoter of Justice mentioned the statements of Msgr. Sergio Pintor, bishop emeritus of Ozieri, who died in 2020, on relations with the Becciu family who, according to the prelate, managed Caritas “at the family level,” with hints of a “strong interference in pastoral activities.”
There was also talk of 927 documents for the transport of 18,000 kilos of bread produced by Spes and intended for delivery to the parishes, in order to justify the sums paid to the cooperative by the diocese. However, the documents appear to have been “falsified.”
The Interrogation of Msgr. Perlasca
The long-awaited interrogation of Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, former head of the administrative office of the Secretariat of State lasted six hours during which the prelate of Como addressed all the fundamental points of the trial: the purchase of the building in London, payments intended for Cecilia Marogna and the Caritas of Ozieri; relationship with Gianluigi Torzi and Raffaele Mincione, and the nature of the investments made by the Secretariat of State.
Investments that he assured that he would never have been able to authorize, because he had no authority for this: “Even the IOR did not recognize my signature.” The financial activities were “totally in the hands” of Fabrizio Tirabassi (defendant). “I tried in every way to get him replaced. I didn't like him very much. So you have to run the horses you have.”
Relations with Raffaele Mincione
Msgr. Perlasca, regarding the affair of the London building on Sloane Avenue, accused Raffale Mincione of doing “what he wanted. He financed his activities with our share of cash. We were losing money.” In the summer of 2018, the Holy See had had enough and decided to quit the business: “Faith is infinite, patience limited.”
He adds that the London meeting from November 20-23, 2018, at the end of which two agreements were signed which established the transfer of Gianluigi Torzi (defendant) to the Gut Funds, should have been only a technical meeting. Fabrizio Tirabassi and Enrico Crassus, sent by the Secretariat of State, as trusted experts, returned with a framework agreement.
Msgr. Perlasca insisted on hearing other experts. But “Fabrizio Tirabassi said on the phone that we had to conclude, that we were losing money, that they were giving us an opportunity on a silver platter. I said to myself: if the technicians say that everything is fine, everything is fine.”
Gianluigi Torzi’s Shares
The deal made in London gave Gianluigi Torzi full control of the building. It was Gianluca Dal Fabbro, who made the head of the Administrative Office aware of the “flaw in the agreement.” He said to me, “getting out of this thing will cost you a lot of money.” He explained to me that “the difference between our 30,000 shares which counted as much as a two of spades and Torzi’s 1,000 shares. I was devastated”.
Msgr. Perlasca decided to denounce Gianluigi Torzi. “I told everyone, but most of them were ready to pay or negotiate. I was asked not to take care of the operation anymore.”
Msgr. Perlasca was then questioned about the payments sent to Cecilia Marogna, who, through her company in Slovenia, had acted as an intermediary for the release of the Colombian nun. “I was asked to make payments to ‘an intermediary.’ I did not know if it was a man or a woman. I did the transaction.”
Later, the witness discovered the charges for luxury products made by Cecilia Marogna, and asked Cardinal Becciu if fraud had been committed. The latter replied: “If it is true, I will call her to tell her that she must return it.” He discovered shortly after that a certain Cecilia Zulema, posing as an agent of the Italian secret services, was asking for a contribution for a mission in Libya.” He was dismayed when he found out that the agent was Marogna.
Msgr. Perlasca also revealed that the current Bishop of Como, Cardinal Oscar Cantoni, told him that Cardinal Becciu had telephoned Cantoni to ask Perlasca to withdraw what he had said, a request accompanied by a threat of six months in prison. “I just reported it.”
After this testimony, which sounds like an indictment, it seems that Cardinal Becciu is in the worst position.