A financial investigation by the Vatican into whether Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki and his vicar general, Mgr Markus Hofmann, had violated canon law in their funding of investigations and hiring of communications consultants has found them not guilty.
A letter from Cardinal Marc Oullet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops states that, after an “in-depth study,” the Vatican determined the financial institutions of the archdiocese did not need to be involved in the decision to spend €2.8 million from an episcopal fund.
The communications agency, which alone cost €820,000, had been called in by the archdiocese because of problems affecting its media department at the time.
However, the Cardinal and Mgr Hofmann had failed to arrange a lump-sum contract or to set a time limit for the consultancy.
This omission led to allegations that the property council and the cathedral chapter should have been involved in the decision under canon law.
Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who is currently under investigation by the Vatican must be hoping that the outcome of his own case is as successful as he takes to the stand for the second time since March.
The ‘trial of the century’, as it has been dubbed, is the result of a two-year investigation by Vatican prosecutors into allegations of financial malfeasance, mostly in connection with an investment made by the Secretariat of State in a London property.
According to the prosecution, which has collected 500 pages of documentation and other evidence, during the Secretariat of State’s years-long purchase of the London building, people employed by the Vatican, or doing business with it, worked to defraud the Vatican for their own financial gain.
Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “Careful analysis of the evidence is key in any complex investigation, especially when the amounts in dispute are eye-wateringly large.
In high-profile cases, the pressure on forensic accountants who give expert evidence is even greater than usual because they will be only too aware that their opinions will be subject to public as well as judicial scrutiny.”