Vatican’s effort to find a scapegoat for their malfeasance being thwarted at every turn.
An order for an Italian man’s extradition to stand trial on Vatican-linked fraud charges in Italy has been discharged by the High Court. Gianluigi Torzi was accused of laundering €15m he had allegedly extorted from the Vatican in a high-value London property deal.
The subject of simultaneous prosecutions in both the Vatican City State and in Rome, Mr. Torzi was invited to help the Vatican complete its purchase of no. 60 Sloane Avenue in Chelsea for a reported €350m. Although the Vatican agreed to and paid him €15m for his services on legal advice, it later claimed that this had in fact been an act of extortion. The Italian courts accused Mr. Torzi of laundering this fee in various investments in Italy.
Represented in extradition proceedings by Ben Cooper QC and Malcolm Hawkes, Mr. Torzi argued that there was no basis to allege any extortion: the Vatican had freely entered into an agreement with him to broker the property deal, even if the funds the Vatican used – Peter’s Pence – should never have been used for that purpose. The €15m represented an agreed fee after months of negotiations which even included a personal meeting between Mr. Torzi and Pope Francis himself.
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