Vatican prosecutors have indicted the former president of the Vatican bank and his lawyer on embezzlement charges, holding them responsible for losses of more than 50 million euros ($62 million) from real estate sales.
The trial of Angelo Caloia and his lawyer, Gabriele Liuzzo, begins March 15. A third suspect died while under investigation.
The Institute for Religious Works said late Friday that Caloia and his lawyer were charged with alleged embezzlement and self-laundering between 2001 and 2008, when the bank disposed of “a considerable part of its real estate assets.”
The scam allegedly involved the suspects selling Vatican-owned real estate at under value prices to offshore companies that then resold the buildings at market rates, with the suspects allegedly profiting from the difference, according to a person familiar with the investigation.
The IOR, as the bank is known, is joining a civil case alongside the criminal trial to try to recover some of the losses.
The Vatican announced the criminal investigation into Caloia, the IOR president from 1989-2009, attorney Liuzzo and the late bank director general, Lelio Scaletti, in 2014 after bank officials discovered irregularities in IOR accounts and operations.
The suspects have denied wrongdoing.
It’s the latest attempt by the IOR to try to recover money it claims it lost due to the crimes or bungled decisions of its former managers.
Just last month, the Vatican’s civil tribunal found two other former bank heads, Paolo Cipriani and Massimo Tulli, liable for mismanagement for bad investments during their tenure and ordered them to repay the institution. The two resigned from the bank in 2013.
The IOR launched a massive internal overhaul and reform of its operations as part of a process launched by Pope Benedict XVI to clean up its reputation as a scandal-plagued off-shore tax haven.
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