In a First, Vatican Court Convicts a Cardinal

Angelo Becciu, who was a close adviser to Pope Francis, found guilty of embezzlement
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2023 4:45 PM CST
In a First, Vatican Court Convicts a Cardinal
Cardinal Angelo Becciu attends a consistory inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in August 2022.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

Cardinal Angelo Becciu, a onetime adviser to Pope Francis who was touted as a potential successor, was convicted Saturday by a Vatican court of embezzlement. Cardinal Angelo Becciu was sentenced to 5½ years in prison, the BBC reports. He was charged after an investigation sparked by a losing property investment in London. Prosecutors found that Becciu had approved transfers of 200 million euros in connection with the deal, which they said constituted embezzlement. The cardinal was acquitted Saturday of money laundering, abuse of office, and influencing a witness charges, per the Washington Post.

Becciu, 75, also was barred from holding Vatican office and fined about $8,700. His lawyer said afterward that the cardinal is innocent and would appeal the conviction. Eight defendants, some of them laypeople, were found guilty of financial crimes or abuse of office. Another was acquitted of all charges. It was the first time the Vatican's criminal court had tried a cardinal. Before Becciu was convicted, the pope stripped Becciu of his privileges as cardinal. Some of them later were restored. The Vatican's financial operation has been mired in scandal since before Francis' papacy. The pope has called for transparency in the organization, and this prosecution could be a test case, per the BBC. (More Vatican stories.)

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