Cardinal Becciu Maintains Innocence after Testifying at Vatican Trial for Embezzlement

Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu took the stand and read a two-and-a-half hour statement at the May 5th hearing in the Vatican trial regarding a London property, before being questioned by the Promoter of Justice.
Vatican News' Salvatore Cernuzio, reported that, Cardinal Angelo Becciu’s spontaneous statement covered a wide range of topics, from his relations with the manager Cecilia Marogna and with Monsignor Alberto Perlasca, to bank transfers to Australia and the details of the sale of the London property, to his audience with the Pope on 24 September 2020, in which he was deprived of his rights as a Cardinal.
The fourteenth session of the trial in the Vatican for alleged financial wrongdoing, once again presided over by Giuseppe Pignatone, opened with the news that Msgr Perlasca, the former head of the administrative office of the Secretariat of State and considered the “key witness” in the trial, has joined the civil action. He will be represented by Angelo Alessandro Sammarco.
 In his second appearance on the stand – strongly reiterated his “absolute innocence,” as well as his dismay at having been exposed to a “public pillory of worldwide proportions.”
Saying he was “torn apart by an inner conflict” between the desire to defend himself and “the priestly dignity that leads me not to expose the evil done by others,” the cardinal, from 10:05am to 12:35pm spoke without interruption and dwelt on each of the charges.
He then recalled the moment when “for the first time” such accusations were made against him personally – namely, at the audience with Pope Francis at the end of September 2020, which ended with Becciu’s resignation.
“The Holy Father,” Becciu said, “told me that following ad hoc investigations, he had been told that the funds from the Peter’s Pence charity that I sent to Caritas in my diocese of Ozieri had served to enrich my brothers, in particular my brother Tonino. He also told me that he was saddened that an Italian weekly magazine had already reported this serious accusation and that an article on the subject would soon be published.”
He said, “The transfer of the 125,000 Euro was the only accusation he made against me. The Holy Father told me expressly that he had no others. For the love of the Church, I, therefore, considered it necessary, with great sorrow, to resign from the post I held” [ed.: Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints].
From that point, he said, his life was “turned upside down”: “I was splashed across the front pages of newspapers around the world; deprived of every ecclesiastical office; relegated to the margins of the Curia and the Church.” The cardinal said he still wonders today “why these false accusations were reported to the Pope,” creating in the Church “a scandal of unprecedented gravity.”
Cardinal Becciu likewise described as “infamous” the accusations of embezzlement with regard to investments with the funds of the Secretariat of State, and specifically the illicit use of internal finances and of funds from Peter’s Pence for purposes other than charitable ones.
If the accusations had any merit, he said, “I would have abused my powers to enrich people substantially unknown to me.” He once again insisted, “All of the accusations are totally unfounded.”

Cardinal Becciu said that Msgr Perlasca asked him for help to defend his position and to meet with the Pope. The audience took place but did not improve his mood, the cardinal said, before describing a dramatic text message in which Perlasca announced his intention of committing suicide by throwing himself out of the window of his room.

Genevieve Putignani, born Genoveffa Ciferri, contacted Becciu as someone close to Perlasca and, in brusque tones, asked “to speak to the Pope to defend his innocence”.
The woman, who claimed to be a former secret service agent, began pestering him with phone calls, the cardinal said, accusing him of having done nothing for the monsignor. He described one scene where she came to his flat “beatifying” Perlasca, reproaching Becciu, and expressing “uncomplimentary sentiments directed at the Pope.”
 Cardinal Becciu said she warned him on 10 September that between the 15th and 30th of the month I would lose the cardinalate. “I lost it on 24 September,” Becciu said in his testimony.
He also revealed, among other things, that on the basis of investigations conducted by lawyers, he discovered that Genoveffa Ciferri had donated real estate to Perlascain in 2017 in exchange for “suitable moral and spiritual assistance” and the assurance of “celebrating or having celebrated Gregorian Masses in suffrage or after death for five years, in accordance diocesan rate.”
One other woman figured prominently in Becciu’s statement: Cecilia Marogna, the manager from Cagliari (who has also been charged) who presented herself to him as an intelligence expert and an aspiring collaborator of the Holy See to help free religious who had been kidnapped in global trouble spots. For this mission, the cardinal allegedly provided her with large sums of money, which she then used for purchases “incompatible with the purpose imposed on her by the Secretariat of State.”
The “lady” proposed herself as an intermediary for the release of Sister Gloria Cecilia Navaes Goti, a Colombian Franciscan kidnapped in Mali in 2017. “She referred me to a British intelligence agency, Inkerman, with which she could profitably interface by activating all the operations necessary for the release of Sister Gloria.”
The nun was actually released on 21 October 2021. Marogna was paid into different accounts. The expenses were intended to secure the nun’s release, but, according to the prosecution, the manager used much of the money to buy clothing, accessories, and luxury furniture.
In his lengthy statement, Cardinal Becciu also touched on two further issues.
The first was the investment with Falcon Oil, an oil company in Angola, owned by entrepreneur Antonio Mosquito, his “friend” during Becciu’s time in the nunciature to the African country. Mosquito, a “benefactor of the Nunciature,” proposed the purchase of the right to exploit the fields of Well 15, also owned by [Italian energy company] ENI.

The second issue concerned bank transfers sent to Australia, amounting to about 2.3 million Australian dollars, during the period of the abuse trial against Cardinal George Pell. Two years ago, some media outlets suggested that Becciu – who, at the time, was Substitute of the Secretariat of State – had financed false testimonies to the detriment of the Australian cardinal, with whom he had differences in the Curia.
In his testimony on Thursday, Cardinal Becciu denounced the accusation as “shameful… an ignoble and unbearable inference.” He read part of a letter from Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin stating that the sum was used to pay for the Internet domain “.catholic.”
From correspondence, Becciu claimed to have discovered that, among other things, it was Cardinal Pell himself who had authorized this payment, in a letter from 2015. Cardinal Becciu said he was saddened that Cardinal Pell “had fallen into this misunderstanding.”

Finally, Cardinal Becciu was asked to account for the so-called “Lombard” investment, the transfer of all the economic assets of the Secretariat of State into a single account in order to benefit from the interest.
In 2013, all deposits were transferred to Credit Suisse. Why there? The cardinal said he did not remember or know the details of the operation, which was planned by “insiders” such as Fabrizio Tirabassi and the financier Enrico Crasso, consultant to the Secretariat of State since the 1990s, with Perlasca’s consent. Credit Suisse, he said, “seemed a trustworthy bank.”
The same bank proposed the name of broker Raffaele Mincione (also a defendant) as an expert in the oil sector to lead the negotiations with Falcon Oil.
The rest is more or less known history on which the judicial proceedings are intended to shed light. 
Edited from Vatican News