Woman arrested in connection with the latest Vatican financial scandal

A woman arrested on Tuesday in connection with the latest Vatican financial scandal is said to be one of the sacked Vatican Cardinal Angelo Becciu’s staff.

Becciu, a former top Vatican official was fired last month by Pope Francis, who accused him of embezzlement and nepotism. Becciu has denied all wrongdoing.

Cecilia Marogna (39) was arrested in Milan under an international warrant issued by a Vatican magistrates.

A senior Vatican source says Holy See magistrates suspect Marogna of embezzlement and aggravated misappropriation in complicity with others.

Recent Italian newspaper reports say Becciu used his senior position at the Vatican Secretariat of State to pass hundreds of thousands of euros in Holy See funds to Marogna’s Slovenian-based consulting firm, purportedly for humanitarian operations in Africa and Asia.

Marogna is not denying she had received 500,000 euros ($587,350) over a four-year period from Becciu.

Exactly what the money was used for is still being investigated.

In one report Marogna says it was used to run a “parallel diplomacy” to help missionaries in conflict zones.

She says the money was used as compensation, travel reimbursements and consultancy fees as well as some luxury expenditures.

Using her purchases of designer handbags as an example, she says they were purchased “maybe for the wife of a Nigerian friend who was in a position to talk to the president of Burkina Faso.”

Marogna’s work for the Vatican Secretariat of State was not previously known.

It is not yet known what charges Marogna could face if she was merely on the receiving end of consulting fees approved by Becciu.

He had been given broad discretionary authority to manage the Secretariat of State’s assets by his senior at the Secretariat, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

Becciu’s lawyer says his client knew Marogna but his dealings with her had been “exclusively about institutional matters.”

The sacked cardinal has also been caught up in another Vatican financial scandal revolving around the use of Church money to invest in a luxury building in London.

Last year, L’Espresso linked the cardinal to a shady investment in high-end London real estate.

The Vatican allegedly paid over US$200 million into the venture — mostly from donations from Catholic faithful. In the meanwhile, middlemen allegedly pocketed tens of millions in fees. Five Vatican employees were subsequently suspended.

Becciu has denied all wrongdoing in the deal and defended the purchase, saying the property has increased in value.


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