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Trial begins for top Vatican officials accused in international financial scandal

Posted at 5:26 AM, Jul 26, 2021

Vatican prosecutors have alleged a jaw-dropping series of scandals in the biggest criminal trial in the Vatican’s modern history.

The trial opens Tuesday in the Vatican Museums.

A once-powerful cardinal, Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, and nine other people are accused of bleeding the Holy See of millions of dollars in donations through bad investments, deals with shady money managers and apparent favors to friends and family.

Becciu faces charges of embezzlement, abuse of office and bribery.

He and the others face prison sentences and fines if convicted.

The trial is the culmination of a two-year investigation into the Holy See’s flawed 350 million-euro London real estate venture. That operation exposed the Vatican’s once-secret financial dealings and its structural dysfunction, which allowed just a few people to do much financial damage with little oversight.

However, the prosecution alleges that Pope Francis and his top aides were not only aware of some transactions but explicitly authorized them in some situations.

The trial will likely be postponed for several months following the first hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday.