The Vatican’s purchase of the building in London’s Chelsea suburb has been one of the blackest marks on the Vatican’s finances in recent years.
The Vatican said on Friday that it had signed a contract to sell a luxury London building that is at the heart of a fraud and embezzlement trial under way in the Vatican’s criminal tribunal, which is recovering more than it expects. has some of the loss-making investment.
The Vatican’s Ministry of Economy also revealed, with the release of the Holy See’s budget for 2022, that 10 per cent of the deposit had been received and that the sale was expected to be completed in June. The budget provides for a reduction of the Holy See’s deficit to 33 million euros ($ 37 million) from 42 million euros ($ 47 million) last year.
The head of the ministry, Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, told the Vatican media that the loss of the London building had already been accounted for in the Holy See’s balance sheets. No figures were given, including the final sale price of the property, but Guerrero said it sold for more than its valuation price.
The Vatican’s purchase of the building, located at 60 Sloan Ave in London’s Chelsea neighborhood, has been one of the blackest marks on the Vatican’s finances over the past few years. The State Secretariat has invested about 350 million euros ($ 391m) in the investment, many of it donations from believers, for a building that its previous owner bought for 129 million British pounds ($ 173m) – less than half the amount which is invested. .
The scandal exposed the incompetence of the Vatican’s monsoon owners in managing its suitcases, as they signed off on voting shares in the deal and agreed to pay unnecessarily excessive fees to Italians known in business circles for their shady transactions.
Vatican prosecutors accused the Holy See’s longtime money manager, Italian brokers and lawyers of rejecting the Holy See in the various twists and turns of the deal and then extorting the 15 million euro ($ 17 million) Vatican to eventually full to acquire ownership of the property, a former Harrods warehouse.
Pope Francis announced his intention to get rid of the property in 2020 when he ordered the State Secretariat to hand over all its remaining assets to a centralized Vatican treasury, as the London fiasco proved how poorly the office’s monsoon owners had the financial portfolio management.
That reputational blow, combined with the coronavirus pandemic, had an impact on the Vatican’s outcome, as much of the funding for the original London investment came from Peter’s Pence donations of believers destined for the pope’s charity and the maintenance of the Holy See.
In the budget estimates, Guerrero said Peter’s Pence donations continued to decline for several years, up to as much as 15 percent last year, in part because of the pandemic that reduced attendance at the masses, when the collections are usually made.
“This should make us think of other methods of asking for the help of the believers and receiving donations,” he told the Vatican media.
The Vatican’s 2022 budget swells from 300 million euros ($ 335m) last year to 800 million euros ($ 893m) in 2022 because new accounting parameters include Vatican-owned big-ticket entities, including the Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital in Rome , one of Europe’s largest.