THE COMPLAINTS OF IOR AND GENERAL AUDITOR
The investigation, as will be remembered, starts from two complaints lodged by the IOR and the General Auditor (respectively in July and August 2019). In particular, in the second complaint, that of the Auditor, very serious crimes were hypothesized. It is therefore on the basis of internal reports, and therefore on the "antibodies" active in the Vatican system itself, that the investigation begins. The story is divided into two fundamental phases. The first takes place in 2014 and concerns the subscription by the Secretariat of State of the "Athena Capital Global Opportunities Fund" fund, managed by a Sicav headed by Raffaele Mincione and owner of the London building on Sloan Avenue. The second phase takes place between the end of 2018 and the first half of 2019, when the Secretariat of State tries to obtain the availability of the same property by liquidating the shares of the Mincione fund but ends up suffering – with the help of the suspects – the extortion actions and the Torzi scam, called into question as an intermediary.
THE FUND OF 2014
On February 28 six years ago, the Secretariat of State financed the funds "Athena Capital Global Opportunities Fund" by Raffaele Mincione with sums of money it owned and tied to support the activities of the Holy Father, for a total of 200 million and 500 thousand dollars. , obtained by resorting to a complex financial architecture, through the granting of credit lines by Credit Suisse and the Swiss Italian Bank against the pledging of assets of an amount of not less than 454 million euros owned by the Secretariat of State and resulting from donations. The over 200 million are used partly for the purchase of 45 percent of the property, and partly for investment property. The Sloan Avenue property had a very expensive mortgage of £ 125 million. Mincione administered the financial resources invested in a conflict of interest, as they were used for speculative initiatives, in contrast to the instructions of the Secretariat of State, to finance a series of operations headed by Mincione himself. These transactions, conducted in competition with the suspects, saw the acquisition of companies, the subscription of bonds issued by companies of the same Mincione, the acquisition of company shares of companies in the technology sector listed on the stock exchange and also the acquisition of shares of Banca Carige and Popolare di Milano. The assessments made by the Vatican judiciary showed that in September 2018 the fund units had a value of 137 million euros, with the loss of over 18 million euros compared to the initial value relating to the investment property. In November 2018, the Secretariat of State, to try to contain the huge losses of the investment in the fund, decided to resolve relations with Raffaele Mincione, through an operation that included on the one hand to take over the London property, and from the the transfer of the units of the fund is other.
THE TORZI INTERMEDIARY
One of the suspects of the Secretariat of State, Fabrizio Tirabassi, head of the administrative office, at that time sought someone able to open a negotiation with Mincione and through the lawyer Manuele Intendente arrived at Gianluigi Torzi. The latter explains that he knows Mincione and says he is available to act as an intermediary. The agreement was found without difficulty in a few hours, at a meeting taking place in London, also in consideration of Tirabassi's immediate availability to pay Mincione 40 million euros as an adjustment. This phase of the affair is still under investigation, because the enormous disproportion between the value of the property (which is also burdened by an onerous mortgage of 125 million pounds) and the price paid emerges. The disbursement of 40 million raises the price paid by the Secretariat of State – between initial investment in the fund, mortgage and adjustment in Mincione – to 350 million for the availability of the Sloan Avenue building. A property that had been purchased by a Mincione company in December 2012 at a value of 129 million pounds.
THE RAY OF THE BKOKER
Unfortunately, the story didn't end there. In fact, to take over the London property, instead of purchasing the "60 Sa Limited", the Jersey-based company that held it through a chain of additional companies, the Secretariat of State, represented by Fabrizio Tirabassi and Enrico Crasso (the latter delegated to operate on the accounts of the Secretariat of State with his company "Sogenel Capital Holdig") decided – for reasons yet to be clarified – to triangulate the purchase through the "Gutt Sa" headed by Torzi. A framework agreement is therefore signed with which “Gutt Sa” purchases the entire corporate chain that owns the London property; 40 million are paid to the Mincione fund as an adjustment and all the shares held by the Secretariat of State are transferred to the fund. On November 22, a second share purchase agreement was signed with which the Secretariat of State purchases 30 thousand shares of "Gutt Sa" from Torzi at the symbolic value of one euro. The expected payments are made. But that same November 22, without the Secretariat of State knowing anything about it, Torzi changed the capital of the company "Gutt Sa" by introducing next to the 30 thousand shares without voting rights, the 1000 shares with voting rights, which were not part of the cession commitment. In this way, the broker continued to have full control over the property.
From the investigations carried out, from the documentary acquisitions and from numerous testimonial sources, it emerged that starting from December 2018 Gianluigi Torzi began to make completely unjustified and disproportionate economic requests to transfer the shares of the "Gutt Sa" or in any case of the chain of companies that owned the London property, so as to return the availability of the building to the Secretariat of State. Torzi in fact claims huge sums for the sale of the shares, despite the agreement that the Secretariat of State could at any time take them over at the price of 1 euro. The broker today arrested in the Vatican, taking advantage of the 1000 shares to which he had fraudulently attributed the right to vote, between the end of April and the beginning of May 2019, at the end of an exhausting negotiation conducted by several mediators on behalf of the Secretariat of State , has agreed to sell the shares of the company that owns the London property, against the payment of 15 million euros. Money actually paid without any economic and legal justification. The two payments take place on 1 and 2 May 2019, against two invoices for non-existent services issued for 10 and 5 million. According to the Vatican judiciary, Torzi, in competition with other suspects of the investigation, communicating his intention not to sell the chain of companies holding the London property to the Secretariat of State, "feared serious damage to the assets of the Secretariat of State and it forced her to a long negotiation by various emissaries ". Negotiation ended with the payment of another 15 million euros.
Torzi's lawyers spoke on the matter on the afternoon of Saturday 6 June. "This measure we believe is the result of a big misunderstanding determined by interested statements that may have misled a correct interpretation of the matter by the investigators", commented the lawyers Ambra Giovene and Marco Franco, lawyers of the arrested broker. “There is no doubt in fact that Gianluigi Torzi allowed the Vatican Secretariat of State to recover a prestigious London property whose huge value was in danger of being dispersed and subsequently avoided that the same could take unclear paths. Torzi never intended to act against the interests of the Holy See and from the beginning of this investigation, through his defenders, he showed constant availability to investigators for the reconstruction of the facts by producing dozens of documents, memoirs and, finally, with yesterday's interrogation, which lasted 8 hours, to which our client came specially from abroad. We are sure that Gianluigi Torzi's position will soon be clarified with recognition of his extraneousness from the disputed charges ".
EXCERPT OF AN ARTICLE BY CARLO MARRONI PUBLISHED ON SOLE 24 HOURS TODAY:
“How did it come from the arrest of Torzi, the first stranger to the Leonine walls to end up in those cells? The story began in 2014. The powerful General Affairs section of the Secretariat of State led at the time by Msgr. Angelo Becciu, must invest part of his large treasure, which also manages the Obolo di San Pietro. First Becciu thinks of an oil investment in Angola, then turns on the property in London, with the subscription of the "Athena Capital Global Opportunities Fund" by Raffaele Mincione, for a total of 200 million and 500 thousand dollars, obtained by resorting to a complex financial architecture, through the granting of credit lines by Credit Suisse and the Swiss Italian Bank against the pledging of assets of an amount of not less than 454 million euros owned by the Secretariat of State and deriving from donations, as reconstructed in detail by Vatican News , official organ of the Holy See. This money is used partly for the purchase of 45% of the property, and partly for investment property. On the beautiful building on Sloane Avenue (formerly a Harrod's office), a very expensive loan of £ 125 million was paid by Cheney Capital of Luxembourg. Then something changes. Mgr. Arrives at the Secretariat of State Edgar Pena Parra, and check the status of the deal. The shares in September 2018 had a value of 137 million, with losses of 18 million only for the equity part and it was decided to terminate the relationship with Mincione. Contacted by Fabrizio Tirabassi, then an official of the Secretariat of State – also attentive to the investigators – Torzi arrives ".