Dan Brown wishes he wrote this one: All the Pope’s men are descending on London over an expensive and failed real estate deal.
Vatican police raided the home and offices of Vatican state official Alberto Perlasca, who oversaw the Holy See’s European asset portfolio and was involved in the property botched deal, according to the Associated Press.
The raid comes five months after Vatican police raided several other Vatican offices. No one has been charged.
It appears the Vatican grossly overpaid for the London property at 60 Sloane Avenue in Chelsea and incurred costly fees in the process. In 2014, the Vatican Secretariat bought a 45 percent stake in the property for roughly $200 million through a fund managed by Raffaele Mincione.
Mincione had bought the office property just two years earlier for £129 million, but a few months before the Vatican’s investment, the value of the fund’s equity stake in the office building was tripled after an appraisal by CBRE.
The Vatican deal allowed Mincione to cash out more than his entire initial investment in the property, according to Financial Times. The structure of the deal meant the Vatican paid Mincione millions of dollars in fees after that point as well. Mincione said the deal was transparent and the fees were normal.
At some point, Mincione began planning to convert the office building into a residential building. He secured permits in 2016, but had to take out expensive debt following the U.K.’s vote on Brexit.
Two years later, the Vatican bought out Mincione’s share for roughly £168 million. They also took on £100 million in debt owed to a London hedge fund. Still, work hadn’t started on the conversion.