Cardinal Pell’s accuser has denied he was bribed into make allegations of abuse, after Italian newspapers speculated that Cardinal Angelo Becciu may have sent money to Australia to influence witnesses.
Attorney Vivian Wallace, who represents a man who accused Pell of abuse, said on Monday: “My client denies any knowledge or receipt of any payments. He won’t be commenting further in response to these allegations.”
Cardinal Pell’s own former barrister, Robert Richter, QC, has also called for an investigation into the allegations.
Italian newspapers suggested last week that Cardinal Becciu wired €700,000 of Vatican funds to Australia during Cardinal Pell’s trial. The claims were then reported in Australia, the UK and the US with the suggestion that the money was used to bribe witnesses, however the allegations have not been independently confirmed.
The claim regarding the money transfer appears to come either from a dossier being compiled by Vatican prosecutors or from Mgr Alberto Perlasca, Becciu’s former righthand man at the Secretariate of State. However, the allegations have so far been attributed only to anonymous sources.
Perlasca’s home and office were raided in February and he is believed to be helping prosecutors against Becciu.
Cardinal Pell was brought in by Pope Francis to restore transparency to Vatican finances, but his work was cut short when he went to Australia to face sex abuse charges. He was jailed in early 2019, but the Australian High Court quashed his conviction earlier this year.
Pell and Becciu were long regarded as rivals, and Becciu faces accusations of frustrating Pell’s work of clearing up Vatican finances.
Last month, Becciu resigned from the dignity and privileges of a cardinal and also stood down as head of the Vatican office for the Causes of saints. He strongly denies any wrongdoing.
Writing on the latest allegations in CNA, Ed Condon says: “It could be said that Becciu does not lack for means, motive, and opportunity to have done what is claimed. But Pell’s more clear-eyed allies will be acutely aware that – so far – nothing has been proven, and the current media attention being given to the allegations against Becciu does not mean it inevitably will be.”