Vatican judge charges cardinal, nine others with financial crimes

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Ten people, including the Vatican's cardinal formerly in charge of naming saints, have been accused of financial crimes in connection with a sweeping probe approved by Pope Francis .

The president of Vatican City State’s Tribunal, Giuseppe Pignatone, ordered the indictments of Cardinal Angelo Becciu and nine others, the Holy See press office announced Saturday.

Becciu, who resigned last year as head of the Congregation for Saints' Causes amid a financial scandal, was charged with crimes including embezzlement and abuse of office.

The cardinal was accused last year of wiring a sum of euros equaling $100,000 to a charity controlled by his brother and urging a conference of Italian bishops to make a $300,000 donation.

While Becciu admitted to the actions, he argued that it was done solely to support his brother’s charity.

A woman who worked for Becciu has also been charged with embezzlement, according to the Holy See.

The investigation also resulted in charges against Tommaso Di Ruzza and René Brülhart, former leaders of the Vatican’s financial intelligence unit.

According to the Holy See, Brülhart has been charged with abuse of office, while Di Ruzza has been charged with embezzlement and violating confidentiality.

Meanwhile, two Italian brokers — Gianluigi Torzi and Raffaele Mincione — have been charged with embezzlement, fraud and money laundering, with Torzi also charged with extortion.

The Vatican also announced charges against four companies, including one in the U.S., with charges including fraud and embezzlement.

The Holy See said the charges will now be brought forth to the Vatican City State’s Tribunal for prosecution and defense, with the first hearing scheduled for July 27.

The indictments come after Pope Francis in October committed the Vatican to uphold “clean” finances, meeting with a team of about a dozen investigators from Moneyval, the Council of Europe's agency involved with investigating financial crime.

The Pope at the time said the probe was aimed at “monitoring movements of money and of intervening in cases where irregular or even criminal activities are detected.”

“The measures that you are evaluating are meant to promote a ‘clean finance’, in which the merchants are prevented from speculating in that sacred temple which, in accordance with the Creator’s plan of love, is humanity,” he said at the time.

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