AP

Banker says he warned Vatican about London fund investor

May 30, 2022, 10:55 AM | Updated: 11:03 am

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican’s longtime investment banker testified Monday that he repeatedly voiced concerns about a fund that was investing in a troubled London property, but said the Holy See’s secretariat of state insisted on pursuing the deal even as it lost money.

Enrico Crasso said he was very much on the sidelines of the London deal, which is at the center of the Vatican’s big fraud and embezzlement trial. Prosecutors have accused Crasso and nine other people of fleecing the Holy See of tens of millions of euros and of ultimately extorting the Vatican for 15 million euros to get control of the property.

Crasso, who handled the secretariat of state’s investments for 27 years at Credit Suisse and his own firms, is accused of several counts of embezzlement as well as corruption, fraud and extortion. Crasso denies wrongdoing and testified Monday that in his more than quarter-century of work for the Holy See, the investments he managed always turned a profit.

On his first day on the stand, Crasso stressed that he was only brought into the London deal by chance after he was called on by the secretariat of state to help it evaluate ways to diversify its asset portfolio in 2012, first into a potential petroleum development deal in Angola and then the London property.

Crasso said Credit Suisse recommended a commodities expert, Raffaele Mincione, to evaluate the Angola deal. After all sides agreed against it, Mincione stayed on as a new money manager for the Vatican via his Athena investment fund that was investing in the London property.

Crasso referred to a 2016 formal statement from the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, making clear that there were no limits on where the Vatican’s Credit Suisse assets could be invested. Crasso’s defense has cited the letter to rebut the embezzlement allegation that Crasso routed Vatican money destined for charity to highly speculative investments.

Crasso testified that he was essentially sidelined after the Vatican began working with Mincione and he cited a series of emails he sent to Vatican officials expressing concern and perplexity at some of Mincione’s investment choices.

By 2018, the Vatican decided to exit Mincione’s fund because it had lost some 18 million euros and was looking for a way to buy him out of the London property. Enter another defendant, Gianluigi Torzi, who was proposed by a friend of Pope Francis as a potential manager and developer for the property.

The deal involved paying off Mincione 40 million euros and then entering into an agreement with Torzi via a new holding company, Gutt, to manage and develop the property. The deal, in which the Vatican held 30,000 shares in Gutt and Torzi 1,000 shares, was hashed out over three days in Torzi’s London office in November 2018.

Crasso said he attended the meetings but had no real reason to be there since the negotiations were being handled by the two top in-house money managers of the Vatican.

Unbeknown to the Vatican at the time, Torzi structured the Gutt shares in such a way that his 1,000 shares were the only ones with the right to vote, meaning he controlled the building and the Vatican held virtually nothing.

According to previous testimony, Francis and the Vatican decided against suing Torzi for alleged fraud and agreed to pay him 15 million euros to finally get control of the property — a payout that Vatican prosecutors say amounted to extortion.

Crasso said there was no logic to prosecutors’ claim he was involved in the alleged extortion since he had only met Torzi for the first time a few days before the November 2018 meetings.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Crystal Baziel holds the Pan-African flag Monday, June 19, 2023, during Reedy Chapel A.M.E C...

Associated Press

The beginner’s guide to celebrating Juneteenth

For more than one-and-a-half centuries, the Juneteenth holiday has been sacred to many Black communities. It marks the day in 1865 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas found out they had been freed — after the end of the Civil War, and two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Since it was designated a federal […]

1 day ago

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch ro...

Associated Press

Plane that did ‘Dutch roll’ on flight from Phoenix suffered structural damage, investigators say

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch roll” during a flight from Phoenix last month.

6 days ago

This photo provided by Randy Shannon shows Mooney Falls on the Havasupai reservation outside the vi...

Associated Press

Dozens report illness after trips to waterfalls near Grand Canyon

Dozens of hikers say they fell ill during trips to a popular Arizona tourist destination that features towering blue-green waterfalls deep in a gorge neighboring Grand Canyon National Park.

7 days ago

Mugshot of Rudy Giuliani, who was processed Monday, June 10, 2024, in the Arizona fake electors cas...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani posts $10K cash bond after being processed in Arizona fake electors case

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney, was processed Monday in the Arizona fake electors case.

9 days ago

FILE - White House former chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Wed...

Associated Press

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Arizona fake elector case

Former Donald Trump presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump 2020 Election Day operations director Michael Roman pleaded not guilty Friday in Phoenix to nine felony charges for their roles in an effort to overturn Trump's Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

13 days ago

deadly heat wave last summer...

Associated Press

After a deadly heat wave last summer, metro Phoenix is changing tactics

Fresh memories of the deadly heat wave last summer have led Arizona authorities to launch new tactics ahead of summer 2024.

23 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Banker says he warned Vatican about London fund investor