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Vatican to lose £100 mn in London building sale: report

By AFP
08 November 2021   |   4:07 pm
The Vatican stands to lose 100 million pounds in charity donations with the sale of a London luxury building at the centre of a financial scandal, a report said Monday.

Pope Francis addresses the meeting “Faith and Science: Towards COP26” on October 4, 2021 in The Vatican, sending an appeal to participants in the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, scheduled from November 1 to 12 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by ALESSANDRO DI MEO / POOL / AFP)

The Vatican stands to lose 100 million pounds in charity donations with the sale of a London luxury building at the centre of a financial scandal, a report said Monday.

The Financial Times reported, citing unnamed sources, that the Vatican was in the final stages of selling the Knightsbridge building to private equity group Bain Capital for approximately 200 million pounds (233 million euros, $270 million).

That is approximately 100 million pounds less than the investment of about 350 million euros the Vatican made in the building beginning in 2014.

The Vatican did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Pope Francis has vowed to bring more transparency to the Vatican’s financial dealings in the wake of the opaque, money-losing investment dating from 2013 — which spurred an investigation and allegations of fraud.

The scandal has been especially embarrassing since the invested funds came from Peter’s Pence, money donated by churchgoers for the pope’s charities.

A once powerful cardinal, Angelo Becciu — the former right-hand man to the pope — and nine other defendants are currently on trial at the Vatican for financial crimes related to the deal.

Prosecutors have painted a picture of risky investments with little or no oversight, and double-dealing by outside consultants and insiders trusted with the financial interests of the Secretariat of State, the Vatican’s most important department charged with general affairs and diplomacy.

The current case dates back nearly a decade when the Secretariat borrowed more than $200 million to invest in a Luxembourg fund managed by an Italian-Swiss businessman, who prosecutors say used the money to invest in high-risk ventures over which the Church had no control.

After losing millions by 2018, the Secretariat tried to pull out of the deal, but the broker hired to cut ties with the fund manager is accused of instead joining forces with him.

The Vatican has a sizeable real estate portfolio, with figures released in July showing it owns 4,051 properties in Italy and another 1,120 in London, Paris, Geneva and Lausanne.

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