Details of the pre-existing business relationship between Mincione and Torzi come nearly two months after Torzi was arrested by Vatican authorities on charges of “extortion, embezzlement, aggravated fraud and self-laundering,” in relation to his part in the deal.
Following Torzi’s arrest, Mincione said that Torzi’s involvement in the London deal came at the instruction of the Secretariat of State without any input from him.
Speaking to ADN Kornos in June, Mincione said Torzi was a “counterpart,” not a “partner,” and characterized their personal connection casually as “two Italians in London.”
While dismissing their personal acquaintance, saying they knew each other slightly since their offices were off the same square in London, Mincione also told AN Kornos that he had in his possession a photograph of Torzi with Pope Francis. A similar image was subsequently released online.
The building at 60 Sloane Avenue was bought by the secretariat in stages between 2014-2018 from Mincione, who at the time was managing hundreds of millions of euros of secretariat funds. CNA has previously reported that Mincione also invested Vatican funds in other companies and projects owned by or connected to him.
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The Vatican cut ties with Mincione in 2018, acquiring the whole of the London property and withdrawing its remaining investment with Athena, asking Torzi to broker the final transfer of ownership, which he did using his own Luxembourg holding company, Gutt SA, as a pass-through, earning Torzi some 10 million euros in the process.
Before Torzi’s arrest, CNA reported that Fabrizio Tirabassi, a lay secretariat official who oversaw investments, was appointed a director of Torzi’s company while the businessman was finalizing the Vatican’s purchase of the London property from Mincione.
On June 6 this year, Vatican News described Mincione’s management of Vatican investments as “speculative” and a “conflict of interest.” Later that month, Mincione, through two of his companies, filed lawsuits against the Secretariat of State and the holding company which controls the London building, and which he sold to the secretariat.
Earlier this month, Vatican prosecutors, working with Italian authorities, executed a search and seizure warrant against Mincione. Italian media reported that Mincione, accompanied by his lawyers, presented himself to police by prior arrangement, who seized electronic devices, including cellular phones and iPads.
Vatican action against Mincione was the latest development in a 18-month-long ongoing investigation into financial dealings by the Secretariat of State.
A series of raids by Vatican authorities, beginning in October last year, have resulted in the suspension of several serving and former employees at the secretariat, including Tirabassi, as well as Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, whose home and office were raided earlier this year.