Crime & Justice

Australia rules out transfer fraud related to cardinal Pell

Sydney, Australia, Feb 3 (efe-epa).- Australian Police said Wednesday it had not found irregularities in funds transfers made from the Vatican between 2014 and 2020, following suspicions of money laundering in a case related to controversial Cardinal George Pell.

In a statement, Australian Federal Police said it “had not identified criminal misconduct to date” by completing the analysis of the information provided by the financial intelligence agency (AUSTRAC) regarding these transfers from the Holy See.

The agency, in charge of fighting money laundering, said last month that as a result of a computer failure it had made a mistake in calculating the total amount transferred from the Vatican.

The downwardly revised amount is of AUD 9.5 million ($ 7.24 million), well below the AUD 2.3 billion ($ 1,753 million) initially calculated.

Most transactions were made when Pell was the Vatican treasurer (2014-2017), a position he had to leave to face the process for alleged sexual abuse in Australia, from which he was finally exonerated.

In late 2020, AUSTRAC disclosed the wrong amount of AUD 2.3 billion to a Senate committee investigating complaints from the Italian press about these transactions.

Italian media had said part of the money included some 700,000 euros (about $ 826,000) allegedly transferred by Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, Pell’s alleged enemy, to Australia to help the prosecution against the cardinal.

Pell, a former Vatican “number three,” was sentenced by a Melbourne city judge to six years in prison for sexual abuse in 2019, but Australia’s High Court, the highest in the land, acquitted him in April.

The cardinal, who spent 13 months in prison, traveled to the Vatican for the first time at the end of September after the judicial process and on Oct. 12 met with Pope Francis.

Becciu, whom Pope Francis forced to resign from his post as prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the rights of the cardinal in September, is also suspected of embezzlement for sending Vatican funds to his brother’s cooperative, among others. EFE-EPA


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