The Vatican is near a deal to sell a London property that sparked a spectacular scandal, ensnaring top officials and costing the Holy See millions of dollars.
The Vatican is in talks with Bain Capital and CIT Group Partners to sell 60 Sloane Avenue for about 200 million pounds ($270 million), according to the Wall Street Journal.
A sale at that price would be a loss of more than $100 million on the Vatican’s botched investment, adding to losses it’s already incurred in the course of its involvement with the property.
The Vatican invested in the commercial property in stages between 2014 and 2018 and appeared to grossly overpay for the property, sinking about $400 million into its acquisition, or twice what it sold for previously to businessman Raffaele Mincione.
Vatican officials began investigating the deal in 2019, apparently after the Secretariat of State, the Church’s executive wing, went to the Vatican bank to refinance debt on the property.
Vatican police last year said that broker Gianluigi Torzi snuck a clause into a contract that gave him control of the property and then extorted the Church for about $18 million in exchange for handing over 60 Sloane Avenue.
They arrested him last year on charges of “extortion, embezzlement, aggravated fraud, and self-laundering.”
The scandal widened earlier this year when the Vatican indicted 10 people, including a cardinal, for their roles in the scandal.
Vatican officials said that Cardinal Angelo Becciu, a top official involved in the acquisition, and his subordinates interfered with the investigation. Mincione was also charged with fraud, embezzlement and money laundering.
The scandal has also prompted the Vatican to restructure how it handles investments. Last year, Pope Francis ordered that the Secretariat of State’s assets be transferred to the Vatican treasury.
[WSJ] — Dennis Lynch