Vatican Cardinal to go on trial for fraud

Vatican Cardinal to go on trial for fraud

Vatican City, July 27 (IANS) A Vatican Cardinal, who was once a close adviser to Pope Francis, will face a trial over allegedly misusing Church funds in a London property venture, a media report said on Tuesday.

The BBC report said that the 73-year-old Cardinal Angelo Becciu is the most senior cleric in modern times to face trial for alleged financial crimes.

Although he denies any wrongdoing, Becciu has been “charged with spending 350 million euros ($412 million) of church money on a botched deal to buy a property in London’s Chelsea that incurred huge losses”, the report said.

Besides the Cardinal, nine others are also accused of several other charges, including extortion, embezzlement and abuse of office.

As reports of the fraud emerged, the Pope sacked the Cardinal last September.

A two-year probe revealed that how the Vatican lost millions of euros, including donations from worshippers, after buying a prestigious former Harrods warehouse in Sloane Avenue, Chelsea, in 2014, the BBC report said.

The Cardinal was formerly in charge of donations at the secretariat which handles Vatican funds.

Meanwhile, the trial is expected to last for months.

The two hearings scheduled for this week are likely to be adjourned until October.

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