Vatican officials last week arrested a man who appears to be at the center of a U.K. real estate scandal that has been a thorn in the side of the Holy See for two years.
Vatican police arrested Italian businessman Gianluigi Torzi for what they called “extortion, embezzlement, aggravated fraud, and self laundering.”
While Vatican officials have suggested that any misconduct related to the property sale was limited to now-suspended lower-tier Church officials, documents now show that prominent Vatican officials signed off on a deal with Torzi, according to the Financial Times.
Torzi brokered the Vatican’s purchase of an office building in London, 60 Sloane Avenue, from Italian businessman Raffaele Mincione. The Vatican bought the property in stages from 2014 to 2018 and appeared to grossly overpay.
Torzi reportedly made 10 million euros for his role in the deal, according to the Catholic News Agency. The Vatican accused Torzi of extorting the Church and threatening to keep the property.
In late 2018, for a reason that’s perplexed outside parties, the church signed over the property to a company controlled by Torzi.
Documents show that in the weeks before that deal, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin authorized a deputy to take control of the Vatican Secretariat’s bank accounts. That deputy, archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, later requested the payment that resulted in the transfer of ownership to Torzi.