Catholic World News News Feature
Italian financier arrested; claimed ties to Vatican June 24, 2008
Raffaello Follieri, an Italian entrepreneur who built up lucrative business ties in New York on claims of close ties with the Vatican, has been arrested and charged with a variety of crimes involving fraudulent financial transactions.
Follieri had persuaded wealthy donors to invest in a scheme in which, he promised, he would use his close ties with ranking Vatican officials to purchase properties from American Catholic dioceses that were closing parish churches and schools. The Follieri corporation was to develop those properties.
Follieri also used his alleged influence at the Vatican to develop ties with former US President Bill Clinton, and claimed a place as an adviser to the presidential campaign of Senator Hillary Clinton, promising to deliver advice on appealing to Catholic voters.
Prosecutors-- as well as investors who were lured into the schemes and have now filed lawsuits against Follieri-- now say that the young Italian business had no real connections with the Vatican. His financial schemes produced no real profits, but served to fun his own playboy lifestyle, the charge.
Follieri’s only real evidence of clout at the Vatican had come from his association with Andrea Sodano, a nephew of Cardinal Angelo Sodano. The nephew was listed as a consultant to the Follieri group, and his name on the masthead promised access to high Vatican offices. Cardinal Sodano, the former Vatican Secretary of State, declined to comment on his nephew’s business connections.