Pope Francis appointed a special prosecutor on Monday. The announcement came in the daily bulletin from the Press Office of the Holy See. The Vatican gave no reason for the appointment, but the figure tapped for the job is an expert in commercial law. The development follows the resignation, late last week, of Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, from his position as Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and Becciu’s renunciation of the rights associated with his rank.
Prof. Gianluca Perone teaches commercial law at Rome’s University of Tor Vergata, with a focus on technical aspects of business organisation and investment. In the 2020/2021 academic year, he is listed as teaching the course in bankruptcy law at Tor Vergata. Perone’s Vatican appointment is officially to the position of promotore di giustizia “applicato” — “applied” promoter of justice — which according to a reform law passed in March of this year has a three-year term and is a direct papal appointment.
Cardinal Becciu is at the centre of multiple financial scandals, including a suspicious €200 million investment scheme involving development property at 60 Sloane Avenue in London.
The reason for Cardinal Becciu’s ouster from Saints and renunciation of his rights, however, appears to have been some unseemly business arrangements with family members. Specifically, His Eminence saw to it that one brother, Francesco, got contracts for carpentry work when Becciu was nuncio first in Angola and later in Cuba. The prelate also secured loans apparently to the tune of €700 thousand for his brother, Tonino, and reportedly sought buyers for his brother Mario’s artisanal beer manufacturer.
Becciu does not dispute the facts, but denies wrongdoing.
Italy’s L’Espresso reported that Becciu between 2013 and 2015 obtained money from the Italian bishops’ conference for two non-repayable €300 thousand loans to the Spes Cooperative, which operates the charitable arm of Ozieri, his former diocese in Sardinia. In 2018, Becciu secured another €100 thousand for Spes, also from Peter’s Pence. Becciu’s brother, Tonino, is Spes’s titular head and legal representative.
“What’s wrong with that?” he said at a hastily arranged press conference last week, the day after news broke, of his fall from grace.
Other news reports have raised questions about the way in which the proceeds from Becciu brothers’ businesses have been reinvested.
(This is a developing story, and will be updated)
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