Vatican loses £100m of charitable money in London property sale – News Couple
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Vatican loses £100m of charitable money in London property sale


The Vatican will incur a loss of £100m in donations to the needy when it completes the pending sale of a luxury office building in London now at the center of an international criminal investigation.

The Vatican is in the final stages of selling 60 Sloane Street, a building in London’s Knightsbridge borough, for £200m to private equity group Bain Capital, according to several people familiar with the process. Bain Capital and Savills, which is running the sale, declined to comment.

The Vatican said that top officials of the Holy See invested a total of 350 million euros in donations in the London building between 2014 and 2018, meaning the sale is expected to confirm a loss of about 100 million pounds for the Catholic Church.

Vatican prosecutors say the money invested in the building and other investments derives from Peter Pence, an annual donation made by Catholics worldwide which, according to the Vatican, is dedicated to “the many different needs of the universal church and of society.” Relief for those in dire need.”

The London building, which was meant to be converted into luxury apartments, is at the center of a scandal that has forced the Vatican to overhaul the way it manages its finances.

Late last year, Pope Francis stripped the Vatican’s powerful Central Administration office of an investment portfolio of hundreds of millions of euros made up of donations from Catholics.

A bad bet on London’s booming property market has left some commercial agents and investors on edge.

“I couldn’t quite understand how they are [the Vatican] One agent with decades of experience in the London office market said:

Earlier this year, Vatican prosecutors charged Rafael Mencioni, a former Italian banker, with various crimes including fraud and embezzlement.

The Mincione Companies acquired the London Building in 2012 for £129 million. Two years later, a Vatican unit that manages charitable donations bought a stake in the property via an investment fund set up by Mincione at a much higher valuation. The Vatican acquired the rest of the building in 2018.

Vatican prosecutors say the Mincione companies have made significant profits from the investment in the Knightsbridge Building.

He denied any wrongdoing, saying that the increase in the property’s value was justified by third-party, audited and independent consultants. He also said that the Vatican had always taken advice from its own investment banks.

Criminal proceedings in the Vatican against Mencioni and others, including Cardinal, were halted last month, and charges against the defendants were raised after a Vatican judge asked the plaintiffs to present additional evidence to defense attorneys.

Lawyers for Mencioni said the filing of charges meant that the case against him in the Vatican Court was legally invalid and in fact “invalid”.

The Vatican said it disagreed on the status of the procedures. Another hearing is expected at the end of this month.

48 million euros of Mencioni’s assets in Switzerland have been frozen at the request of Vatican prosecutors as part of the criminal investigation. He is filing a separate civil case against the Holy See in the English Supreme Court seeking a “declaratory relief”, a ruling that will rule that he acted correctly.

Mencioni said he never knew that the money invested on behalf of the Vatican was drawn from charitable trusts, and that Vatican officials were liable for the loss because in 2018 they withdrew from the investment prematurely, allowing planning permission to finish building the luxury apartments. Vatican prosecutors claim that the loss was the result of a complex fraud.

The English court is expected to rule on whether the lawsuit against the Vatican can be filed by the Mincioni companies before the end of this month.



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