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Vatican police chief resigns as financial investigation continues

October 14, 2019

Domenico Giani, the head of the Vatican Gendarmerie, has resigned, in the wake of a stunning October 1 raid on the offices of the Vatican Secretariat of State and the Financial Information Authority.

The Vatican announced on October 14 that Pope Francis had accepted Giani’s resignation “to assure the proper serenity to the ongoing investigation” of questionable financial transactions by Vatican officials.

The Vatican Gendarmerie had come under heavy criticism after the raid, when a memo, signed by Giani, was made public. The memo, distributed to Vatican security officials, had revealed that five Vatican employers were temporarily suspended and should not be given access to Vatican offices. The publication of that memo, the Vatican press office said, “was prejudicial to the dignity of the people involved and to the image of the Gendarmerie.”

While announcing Giani’s resignation, the Vatican also said that the outgoing commander was not responsible for the leaked memo. The source of the leak has not been identified, the press office said.

Pope Francis reportedly spoke with Giani at some length in accepting his resignation, and thanked him for his years of service. Giani had worked in Vatican security for more than 20 years. He was frequently seen beside the Pontiff at public events and on foreign trips.

The resignation of the security chief adds a new layer of complication to the continuing investigation into suspect financial transactions. The Vatican has disclosed very little about the investigation that prompted the raid by the Gendarmerie on two Vatican offices, but informed sources indicate that the investigation is focused on real-estate transfers involving property in London. The transactions were reportedly approved by the former sostituto or deputy secretary of state, Cardinal Giovanni Becciu, whose former secretary was one of the officials suspended after the raid.

The angry Vatican reaction to disclosure of the suspensions underlines the sensitivity of the investigation. Since the memo signed by Giani was distributed to all security officials, it is not surprising that at least one copy was obtained by Italian media outlets. Yet the leak caused enough outrage to lead to the Gendarmerie chief’s resignation.

Giani’s departure is also an echo of the forced resignation of the Vatican’s auditor general, Libero Milone, two years ago. Milone had clashed with then-Archbishop Becciu when he investigated financial transactions involving the sustituto‘s office.

 


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