Australia’s financial watchdog searches for anti-Pell Vatican money

The Australian Federal Police is looking for evidence that money transfers from the Vactican came to Australia in an attempt to influence the case against Cardinal George Pell.

AUSTRAC, the Australian Government agency responsible for detecting, deterring and disrupting criminal abuse of the financial system to protect the community from serious and organised crime is involved in tracing the $1.1m.

Appearing before a Senate estimates committee, AUSTRAC chief Nicole Rose (pictured) confirmed the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Victorian Police have been told of the financial watchdog’s concerns.

Rose did not go into the nature of the information AUSTRAC had passed on or why it had been given to the state and federal police.

“The AFP has concurrently referred aspects of this matter to the Victorian Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC),” a spokesperson says.

The Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Mike Pezzullo, was also asked at the Senate estimates committee meeting if his department had received any requests from Pell’s legal team to examine the matter.

Pezzullo said he wasn’t aware of anything but would look into it.

Becciu’s lawyer says his client strongly denies any interference with Pell’s trial.

Viv Waller, a lawyer for a man who gave evidence against Pell in the 2018 trial, denies her client received any money.

However, Pell’s barrister, Robert Richter QC, recently called for an investigation into reports about transfers from the Vatican.

“I am treating these reports as requiring a proper investigation by all fiscal authorities to track the money coming to Australia,” he said earlier this month.

Three weeks ago, Vatican authorities’ began an investigation of the alleged disappearance of the money.

The alleged disappearance of the money coincides with Cardinal Giovanni Becciu being removed from his post at the Vatican. Becciu also relinquished his rights as a cardinal.


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