Tue. Dec 7th, 2021


The Vatican will incur a loss of £ 100 million in donations intended for the needy when it completes the pending sale of a luxury London office building that is now in the midst of an international criminal investigation.

The Vatican is in the final stages of selling 60 Sloane Avenue, a building in the Knightsbridge district of London, for about £ 200 million to private equity group Bain Capital, according to several people familiar with the process. Bain Capital and Savills, which manages the sale, both declined to comment.

Senior Holy See officials have invested a total of € 350 million in donations in the London building between 2014 and 2018, the Vatican said, meaning the sale is expected to result in a loss of around £ 100 million for the Catholic Church. confirm.

Vatican prosecutors say the money invested in the building and other investments comes from Peter’s Pence, an annual donation made by Catholics around the world that the Vatican says is “for the very different needs of the universal. church and for the relief of those most in need ”.

The London building, which at one stage was intended to be converted into luxury apartments, is at the heart of a scandal that has forced the Vatican to completely overhaul the way it manages its finances.

Late last year, Pope Francis opened the Vatican’s powerful central administration office of a investment portfolio worth hundreds of millions of euros consists of donations from Catholics.

The sour bet on a booming London real estate market has left some commercial agents and investors dissatisfied.

“I could not quite understand how they [the Vatican] lost money on it, ”said one agent with decades of experience in the London office market.

Vatican prosecutors earlier this year charged Raffaele Mincione, a former Italian banker, with several crimes, including fraud and embezzlement.

Mincione’s companies acquired the London building in 2012 for £ 129m. Two years later, a Vatican unit that manages charitable donations bought a stake in the property through an investment fund set up by Mincione at a much higher valuation. The Vatican acquired the rest of the building in 2018.

Vatican prosecutors say Mincione’s companies have made huge profits from investments in the Knightsbridge building.

He denied any wrongdoing, saying the increase in property value was justified by audited and independent third-party consultants. He also said the Vatican has always been advised by its own investment banks.

Vatican criminal proceedings against Mincione and others, including a cardinal, were suspended last month and charges against the accused were dropped after the Vatican judge requested that prosecutors provide additional evidence to the defense attorneys.

Lawyers representing Mincione said the removal of the charges meant that the case against him in the Vatican court was legal and in fact “not”.

The Vatican has said it does not agree on the status of the proceedings. Another trial is expected to take place at the end of this month.

Mincione has frozen € 48 million of its assets in Switzerland at the request of Vatican prosecutors as part of the criminal investigation. He is filing a separate civil claim against the Holy See in the English High Court seeking “explanatory relief”, a verdict that would judge him to have acted properly.

Mincione said he was never aware that the money invested on behalf of the Vatican was obtained from charitable funds, and that Vatican officials were responsible for the loss because they withdrew from the investment prematurely in 2018 and allowed planning permission. for the construction of luxury apartments to decay. Vatican prosecutors claim the loss was the result of a complex fraud.

The English court is expected to decide before the end of this month whether the case against the Vatican can be brought by Mincione’s companies.



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