Pope Francis authorized wiretapping of a financier
The Vatican authorized secret wiretaps at a London-based Italian finance broker accused of defrauding the Holy See of hundreds of millions of dollars, according to leaked documents.
Pope Francis granted investigators the power to tap phones, intercept emails and arrest anyone without the consent of British judges, the Times of London reported.
The Vatican’s Office of the Promoter of Justice used those powers to target millionaire Raffaele Mincione, a fund manager accused of defrauding the Vatican amid a real estate venture worth around $350 million.
The scandal revolves around a massive Vatican investment in a former Harrod’s warehouse in London to be converted into luxury apartments.
Mincione is one of 10 people, including a cardinal, implicated in the controversy, which first came to light in 2014. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Last month, prosecutors questioned Mincione about his management of a fund that owned the London estate.
In April 2021, the Pope changed Vatican law, allowing religious leaders such as cardinals and bishops to stand trial in the Vatican’s civil courts, the Telegraph reported.
Days later, according to the leaked documents, Pope Francis allegedly “ordered the introduction of technological tools capable of intercepting fixed and mobile devices and any other communications, including electronic ones.” “These powers may be exercised over subjects whose communications activities are deemed useful in conducting the investigation.”
Weeks later, Mincione’s phones and computers were seized by Vatican authorities and Italian police at a hotel in Rome while the financier was reportedly on vacation. His Italian lawyer claims he was under surveillance.
Mincione’s lawyers have written to British officials urging them not to cooperate with the Vatican investigation.