The president of a major Vatican Bank told a courtroom Thursday that he reported a suspicious Vatican property deal to investigators, even while senior Vatican officials offered him “protection” to help the deal go through.
Jean-Baptiste De Franssu is president of the Institute for Works of Religion, a Vatican City bank. Amid a sprawling Vatican City criminal trial, De Franssu answered questions Feb. 16 about the Secretariat of State’s 2018 acquisition of a London building at 60 Sloane Ave.
The banker told judges that in 2019, the Vatican Secretariat of State submitted a loan application to his bank – commonly called the IOR – in order to refinance a mortgage it had taken from a Swiss bank when it bought the London building.
De Franssu told judges that because of the suspicious businessmen involved in the London property deal and the irregularities in its legal structure, he had “no other choice” than to report the application to investigators at the Office of the Promoter of Justice.
His concern was motivated in part by the prospect that deal was being used for money laundering, he said.
He also testified that leaders of the Vatican’s internal financial authority pressured him to drop his opposition to the loan application – alleging that the agency’s two senior officials offered to “protect” him if he approved a loan of 150 million euros.
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