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Vatican sets up committee to oversee ethical investment

Amid an ongoing trial relating to a real estate venture involving property in London


Pete Carvill

In an announcement on its official website, the Catholic Church said it has set up a committee to ensure the ethical nature of the Holy See’s equity investments.

Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life, will preside over the committee. He will be joined by Jean Pierre Casey, founder and CEO of RegHedge; Giovanni Christian Michael Gay, managing director of Union Investment; David Harris, portfolio manager of Skagen Funds; and John Zona, CIO of Boston College.

Reuters reported that, as the committee was being constituted, the Vatican finds itself mired in a corruption trial relating to London real estate in which it has reportedly lost more than €200m.

According to Euronews: “The constitution tasked the committee with guaranteeing that Vatican investments would be proper, ethical and not overly risky. The new members hold five-year terms. The Vatican announced the committee as the 21st hearing of a major corruption trial was in progress and while one of its key defendants, Italian broker Raffaele Mincione, was being questioned for a second straight day. The trial began last July.”

It added: “The real estate venture at the centre of the trial began in 2014, when the Vatican’s Secretariat of State invested €350m ($390m) with Mincione to buy a building in a high-end area of London.”

However, it seems that the Vatican later had doubts about Mincione and turned to a broker named Gianluigi Torzi to extricate it from the deal. Torzi, himself, is now accused by Vatican authorities of deception and trying to take control of the building by assigning himself the voting shares. He was paid €15m to get out of that deal.

Euronews added: “Mincione, Torzi and the other eight defendants at the trial, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu, a former top Vatican official, deny any wrongdoing. They face accusations including extortion, abuse of office, fraud, and money laundering. Last January, the Vatican signed a contract to sell the building, definitively exiting a venture that the court has been told resulted in a loss of €217m.”