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Conscience Magazine

Vatican Banker Convicted in Embezzlement Scam

May 6, 2021

IN THE MOST RECENT DEVELOPEMENT in a years-long financial scandal that has made international headlines, in late January the Vatican’s criminal tribunal convicted the former head of its bank on embezzlement charges. Found responsible for stealing millions of euros from still obscure sales of real estate controlled by the Holy See, former bank chief Angelo Caloia (81) and his lawyer, Gabriele Liuzzo (97), were each sentenced to almost nine years in prison.

Caloia and Liuzzo stood accused of misappropriation of funds and money laundering from 2001 to 2008. Through the sale of over two dozen properties at under market price to offshore companies, followed by the resale of the same properties at market rates, the men then pocketed the difference from the Vatican Bank—amounts totaling millions. In addition to the nine-year sentences, the church awarded the bank (the Institute of Religious Works) restitution amounting to roughly 23 million euros, a portion of which was seized from Caloia’s and Liuzzo’s Swiss and Vatican bank accounts.

Questions remain, however, about the level of involvement of certain members of the hierarchy. The ruling comes amid further revelations involving recent financial scandals reassess involving the Vatican Secretariat of State’s 350-million euro investment in a London real estate venture, all under investigation not only by the Vatican, but Italian authorities, Moneyval (Europe’s preeminent body for the investigation of money laundering) and British law enforcement.