Catholic World News

Vatican tribunal continues hearings in misappropriated-fund case

September 07, 2017

A Vatican tribunal held a 2nd hearing on September 7 in a case involving the alleged misappropriation of funds by two former administrators of the Bambino Gesu hospital.

After a short session, the tribunal continued the case until September 19, allowing lawyers to examine new evidence that had presented by the hospital’s new president.

Giuseppe Profiti and Massimo Spina—the former president and treasurer, respectively of the Bambino Gesu Hospital—are charged with the improper expenditures of over €400,000 ($480,000) from the hospital’s foundation. The funds were used to refurbish the apartment occupied by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the former Secretary of State. Cardinal Bertone himself is not a defendant in the case.

Documentation in the case has shown that the contractor who worked on Cardinal Bertone’s apartment, Gianantonio Bandera, was evidently paid twice for the work—which was never completed. Bandera’s construction company subsequently entered bankruptcy. Bandera is expected to appear as a witness in the Vatican trial, but was not named in the indictments.

The absence of Cardinal Bertone and Bandera from the list of defendants has raised questions about the determination of Vatican prosecutors to punish those ultimately responsible for the alleged misuse of funds from the Vatican-administered hospital. Writing on the trial for Crux John Allen suggests that it will be “a test of accountability” for the Vatican.

Profiti and Spina are the first defendants to be brought to trial under the news laws introduced in the Vatican in recent months to combat money-laundering and other financial misconduct. European banking officials have been pressing Vatican prosecutors to bring pursue legal charges against individuals involved in questionable financial dealings.

Meanwhile Profiti, the former president of Bambino Gesu, argues that the funds used to renovate Cardinal Bertone’s apartment were a legitimate expense, because the apartment was used regularly for the foundation’s fundraising events. The defendants’ lawyers have also argued that as Italian citizens, they are not subject to the Vatican’s financial laws. The Vatican tribunal, headed by Paolo Papanti-Pellettier, has rejected that argument.

At the close of the September 7 hearing, the tribunal said that the case would resume September 19, after lawyers had an opportunity to examine testimony from the hospital’s new president. Left unanswered by the tribunal was a request by defense lawyers for testimony by Tommasso Di Ruzza, the director of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority, who had not appeared at the hearing.

The September 7 hearing occurred while most of the Vatican press corps was accompanying Pope Francis on his trip to Colombia. The resumption of the case on September 19 will undoubtedly draw more media coverage.

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