Five Vatican employees, including the director of the Holy See’s financial watchdog, have been suspended following raids by police investigating alleged financial wrongdoing, an Italian news magazine has reported.
L’Espresso published an order from the Vatican police saying the five had been “suspended from service as a precautionary measure.”
They include Tommaso Di Ruzza, the director of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority, Monsignor Maurizio Carlino, recently appointed to lead the Office of Information and Documentation in the First Section of the Secretariat of State and a former secretary to Cardinal Giovanni Becciu, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The three other officials suspended work at the Secretariat of State.
The seniority of two of those suspended has led to speculation that the investigation could uncover serious wrongdoing. Di Ruzza had been working in an important role managing the office of financial oversight in the Vatican City State.
News of the police probe, according to L’Espresso, is now causing many to “tremble,” and not only “laymen and accountants, but also monsignors and - some say - powerful cardinals.”
In a statement released on Tuesday 1 October, the Vatican said the inquiries concerned "financial transactions carried out over time,” but added no further details.
L’Espresso reported these concern high-end property deals in London which involved some “strange English companies,” and were “apparently conducted irregularly by some offices of the Secretariat of State.”
The order suspending the officials said they are only allowed to enter Vatican territory for health care reasons or if required to do so by magistrates.
Pope Francis, who since his election has been insisting that Vatican finances should be transparent and orderly, was reportedly told at the beginning of summer about allegations of major financial crimes having taken place in recent years. According to the L’Espresso report, Francis “ordered an immediate and most severe investigation, without making concessions to anyone.” It added that donations made through Peter’s Pence were also being investigated.
The complaints which led to the latest probe were lodged with the Vatican Bank (Institute for the Works of Religion) and the Auditor General’s office, which has a financial troubleshooter role.
The raids were authorised by the Vatican City State’s top prosecutor, Gian Piero Milano, the Promoter of Justice, and Alessandro Diddi, Adjunct Promoter of Justice.