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Vatican indicts former hospital officials for stealing money to refurbish cardinal's flat

13 July 2017 | by Catholic News Service

Bertone disputed reports about the size of the apartment and its cost, and insisted that he personally paid the Vatican for the work

Vatican magistrates have formally indicted two former officers of the Vatican's paediatric hospital on charges of illegally using funds to help finance the refurbishment of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone's flat.

Giuseppe Profiti, who was president of Bambino Gesu hospital until 2015, and Massimo Spina, the former treasurer, will be called to appear before Vatican judges beginning on 18 July, the Vatican press office announced in a statement on 13 July. If the two men do not present themselves to the court on the opening trial date, they will be charged with contempt, the Vatican statement said.

After a more-than-year-long Vatican investigation, Profiti, Spina and their lawyers were notified of the charges on 13 June and had until 11 July to supply evidence for their defence.

Giuseppe Dalla Torre, president of the tribunal of Vatican City State, will not be part of the trial proceedings because he is a member of the Bambino Gesu hospital's board of directors, Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, told reporters.

According to the Vatican announcement, Profiti, 55, and Spina, 57, were being charged with illicit use of funds belonging to the Bambino Gesu Foundation to pay Gianantonio Bandera, an Italian contractor, to refurbish an apartment belonging to Vatican City State and used as the residence of Cardinal Bertone, former Vatican secretary of state.

It said Profiti and Spina "were paid" more than 420,000 euros for "completely non-institutional ends" by using the money to refurbish Vatican property in order "to benefit Gianantonio Bandera's company." It said the alleged crime committed in Vatican City State spanned from November 2013 to 28 May, 2014 - the time period that the contractor's seven invoices were dated and paid for, according to news reports.

Profiti, who had been president of the hospital since 2008, resigned in January 2015, less than a year into a renewed three-year term, amid rumors of the alleged financing. The revelations emerged after Emiliano Fittipaldi, a journalist acquitted in a Vatican trial in 2016 for publishing allegedly stolen Vatican documents, published his findings in early 2016.

Based on Fittipaldi's investigation and according to letters published by L'Espresso magazine on 31 March, 2016, Profiti wrote to the cardinal in late 2013, allegedly offering to pay for the refurbishment using the foundation money in exchange for being able to use the top floor of the cardinal's residence for work-related gatherings.

In a letter of reply the next day, the cardinal allegedly accepted the proposal, adding that he would make sure the costs were taken care of by a "third party" so that the foundation would not have to pay.

Mariella Enoc, current hospital president, told reporters in late 2015, "Cardinal Bertone never directly received money (from the hospital's foundation), but recognised that we suffered a loss and, therefore, assisted us with a donation of 150,000 euros."

Cardinal Bertone repeatedly disputed news reports about the size of the apartment and its cost, and he insisted that he personally paid the Vatican, which owns the apartment, for the work done.

Cardinal Bertone was not under investigation.

Profiti had been sentenced with six months' house arrest while he was still hospital president after being found guilty in 2008 of bribes and kickbacks when assigning or promising contracts to companies bidding for providing food services to public schools and hospitals in the cities of Genoa and Savona. At the time, Profiti had been the head of the region of Liguria, where the cities are found in northern Italy. At least four others were found guilty in the same investigation.

PICTURE: The men are accused of using the money to fund renovations to the apartment of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (pictured). The cardinal has not been charged.



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