Vatican indicts 10 people for embezzlement, extortion, fraud

Influential cardinal and nine others to face trial in connection with 350m euro investment in London property venture.

Becciu resigned suddenly last year and gave up his right to take part in an eventual conclave to elect a pope [File: Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters]

A Vatican judge has indicted 10 people, including a once-powerful cardinal, on charges including embezzlement, abuse of office, extortion and fraud in connection with a 350 million-euro ($415m) investment in a London real estate venture.

The president of the Vatican’s criminal tribunal, Giuseppe Pignatone, set July 27 as the trial date, according to a Vatican press statement issued on Saturday.

The indictments were handed down following a sprawling, two-year investigation into how the Secretariat of State managed its vast asset portfolio, much of which is funded by the Peter’s Pence donations from the faithful.

The scandal has resulted in a sharp reduction in donations and prompted Pope Francis to strip the office of its ability to manage the money.

Five former Vatican officials, including Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu and two officials from the Secretariat of State, were indicted, as well as Italian businessmen who handled the London investment.

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