Vatican authorities arrested and took into custody an Italian broker who was involved in the Vatican Secretariat of State’s majority stake purchase of a property in London’s posh Chelsea district.
In a statement, the Vatican said Gian Piero Milano, Vatican chief prosecutor, and his deputy, Alessandro Diddi, authorised the arrest of the broker, Gianluigi Torzi, after he was interrogated at the Vatican prosecutor’s office.
He was being held in a cell in the Vatican police barracks, the statement said.
The arrest was “in relation to the well-known events connected with the sale of the London property on Sloane Avenue, which involved a network of companies in which some officials of the Secretariat of State were present,” the Vatican said.
Torzi faces charges of extortion, embezzlement, aggravated fraud and money laundering. If found guilty, he faces up to 12 years in prison.
The arrest is the latest chapter in the saga related to the London property which first came to light in early October when Vatican police conducted a raid on offices in the Secretariat of State and the Vatican financial oversight office.
The day after the raid, the Italian magazine L’Espresso published an internal notice as well as leaked documents, alleging the raid was part of the Vatican’s investigation into how the Secretariat of State used $200 million to finance a property development project in London’s Chelsea district in 2014.
According to Vatican News, Torzi served as the middleman in the Vatican Secretariat of State’s eventual purchase of the majority stake in the London property in 2018 from London-based Italian financier, Raffaele Mincione.
In an interview published on 6th June with Italian news agency Adnkronos, Mincione denied any connection with Torzi’s involvement in the deal and said he “sold the property to the Vatican”.
Picture: Pope Francis listens as Gian Piero Milano, Vatican chief prosecutor, speaks during an audience at the Vatican on 15th February 2020. In a statement released on 5th June, the Vatican said Milano, and his deputy, Alessandro Diddi, authorised the arrest of Gianluigi Torzi, an Italian broker who was involved in the Vatican Secretariat of State’s majority stake purchase of a property in London’s posh Chelsea district. (CNS photo/Vatican Media).