The Holy See has announced that ‘individual measures’ have been taken against officials in a financial investigation that has been ongoing in its secretariat for months.
Vatican prosecutors are continuing their investigation into suspicious financial transactions and investments that were launched last year.
One lay secretariat official, Fabrizio Tirabassi, was suspended in October 2019 following a raid conducted by Vatican gendarmes, who seized computers and documents related to financial dealings within his department.
The investigation into investments and financial transactions at the secretariat centres on the purchase of a building in Chelsea, which was bought between 2014 and 2018 from Italian businessman, Raffaele Mincione, who at the time was managing millions of euros of secretariat funds.
Mr Tirabassi oversaw investments for the secretariat at the time and was appointed a director of Mr Mincione’s holding company, based in Luxembourg.
Amongst other claims, it is alleged that secretariat officials, including Mr Tirabassi, have attempted to disguise debts and assets on Vatican balance sheets and have forged relationships with individuals and institutions connected to allegations of corruption, fraud, and money laundering.
Amid such allegations, implicated personnel would normally be suspended in most institutions while an investigation is carried out, but although the Vatican has spoken of “measures”, it is unclear whether Mr Tirabassi remains employed, with the press office confirming “individual measures” but not specifying what that might mean.
Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “If someone in an organisation is suspected of corruption, fraud or money laundering it would be very unusual for the individual not to be suspended while documents and devices were examined in detail to form a picture of transactions and exchanges.
“It would therefore be very surprising if it transpired that Mr Tirabassi had remained able to work and access documents during the investigation in which he appears to have been implicated.”