The banker says he warned the Vatican about the investor of the London fund

VATICAN CITY (AP) – A longtime Vatican investment banker testified Monday that he has repeatedly expressed concern about a fund that has invested in troubled real estate in London, but said the Holy See’s Secretariat insisted on making a deal even if he lost money.

Enrico Krass said he is on the side of the London deal, which is at the heart of the Vatican court on major fraud and embezzlement. Prosecutors accused Krass and nine others of getting rid of the Holy See for tens of millions of euros and eventually extorting 15 million euros from the Vatican to gain control of the property.

Beauty, who has managed public investment for 27 years at Credit Suisse and its own firms, is charged with several counts of embezzlement as well as corruption, fraud and extortion. Beauty denies the crimes and testified Monday that for more than a quarter of a century of work for the Holy See, the investments he led have always been profitable.

On his first day at the booth, Krass stressed that he was involved in the London deal only by accident after the Secretariat of State asked him to help assess ways to diversify its asset portfolio in 2012, first in potential oil development. transactions in Angola and then London-owned.

Beauty said Credit Suisse had recommended commodity expert Rafael Minchone to evaluate the deal with Angola. After all parties agreed against it, Minsione remained the new head of the Vatican through his investment fund Athena, which invested in London property.

Beauty referred to an official statement by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolino in 2016, which made it clear that there are no restrictions on where to invest Vatican assets Credit Suisse. Krass’s defense referred to the letter to refute allegations of embezzlement that Krass sent Vatican money donated to charity, to highly speculative investments.

Beauty testified that he was essentially rejected after the Vatican began cooperating with Minchone, and referred to a series of emails he sent to Vatican officials expressing concern and surprise over some of Minchone’s investment choices.

By 2018, the Vatican has decided to withdraw from the Minchone Fund because it lost about 18 million euros and was looking for a way to buy it back from London property. Enter another defendant, Gianluigi Torzi, who was offered to a friend of Pope Francis as a potential head and developer of the property.

The deal involved the payment of Mincione 40 million euros, followed by an agreement with Torzi through a new holding company, Gutt, on the management and development of real estate. The deal, in which the Vatican owned 30,000 shares of Gutt and Torzi 1,000 shares, was discussed for three days at Torzi’s London office in November 2018.

Beauty said he attended the meetings but had no real reason to attend there as talks were being held by the Vatican’s two top money managers.

At the time, the Vatican was unaware that Torsi had structured Gutt’s shares in such a way that his 1,000 shares were the only one with voting rights, meaning that he controlled the building and the Vatican held virtually nothing.

According to preliminary testimonies, Francis and the Vatican have decided not to sue Torse for alleged fraud and have agreed to pay him 15 million euros to finally gain control of the property, a payment that the Vatican prosecutor’s office says is extortion.

Beauty said there was no logic in the prosecution’s claim that he was involved in the alleged extortion, as he first met with Torsi just days before the November 2018 meetings.

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