Former Vatican secretary of state in funds handling probe

Former Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone is reportedly being investigated over handling of funds from Vatican accounts.

According to German tabloid Bild Zeitung, approval was given for 15 million euros to be transferred from the Vatican bank to an Italian television production company, later identified as Lux Vide.

The company is owned by Cardinal Bertone’s friend Ettore Bernabei, a former director general of Italian state broadcaster Rai.

A Vatican official, who asked not to be named, confirmed that the senior prelate was instrumental in approving what the Financial Times called a “convertible loan”.

The transfer was approved when Cardinal Bertone headed an oversight committee overseeing the Vatican bank, formally known as the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR).

The funds were moved in a December 2012, despite resistance from the Vatican bank, Bild reported.

The head of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority(AIF), Renè Bruelhart, told Bild he could “neither confirm nor deny” reports about a Bertone investigation.

The Vatican press office issued a statement countering the Bild report.

“There is currently no investigation of a criminal nature” involving Cardinal Bertone, the statement said.

Cardinal Bertone has denied the Bild report.

The cardinal told the ADNKronos agency that the transfer was approved by a board that supervises the Vatican bank.

He added that the minutes of the board’s meetings would confirm this and that the transaction had been carried out “regularly”.

In January, Pope Francis shook up the administration of the scandal-plagued bank, replacing four members of the five-cardinal oversight committee.

Cardinal Bertone was among those ousted after less than a year of his five-year term.

Meanwhile, the AIF has reported a steep rise in suspicious transaction reports, which grew from six in 2012 to 202 last year.

Mr Bruelhart said this means reporting systems at the Vatican are working.

Most of the suspicious activities reported involved transactions carried out through the IOR.

Five have been deemed worthy of further investigation and possible criminal charges, and have been handed over to the judicial offices of the Vatican City State.


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