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The Telegraph
The Telegraph
16 Dec 2023

Cardinal jailed for embezzlement after historic Vatican trial

A Vatican court on Saturday sentenced a powerful Italian cardinal to five-and-a-half years in jail on several counts of embezzlement after an historic trial.

Cardinal Angelo Becciu, 75, who was once touted as a future pope, was convicted of charges that included embezzlement and the abuse of his office.

The two-and-a-half-year trial - the most complex in the Vatican’s modern history - revolved around the controversial purchase by the Vatican of a former Harrods car showroom on London’s Sloane Avenue, which it intended to convert into luxury apartments.

The disgraced cardinal was also accused during the trial of having funneled Vatican money to family members and friends.

Becciu, a former adviser to Pope Francis, had strongly denied the charges.

Other defendants accused of a range of financial crimes were two financiers, a self-styled intelligence operative, the former president and director of the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence unit, the cardinal’s former secretary, a monsignor and three former Vatican employees.

The trial exposed ineptitude in how the Vatican handles its huge wealth, which only in recent years was revealed to amount to €4 billion.

It also revealed divisions within the Church, laying bare the extent of the resistance that Pope Francis, who was elected with a mandate to overhaul the Vatican’s management, has faced.