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Vatican on trial in UK for first time in history as British banker looks to clear his name

Raffaele Mincione, right, has been accused of defrauding the Vatican by inflating the value of property sold in London - David M. Benett/Getty Images Europe

Raffaele Mincione, right, has been accused of defrauding the Vatican.  

A British financier at the centre of the Vatican’s “trial of the century”

has launched a legal bid to clearhis name.

Lawyers for Raffaele Mincione have claimed that the Vatican’s chief prosecutor may have perverted the course of justice because of the misleading allegations levelled

against him in British courts.

The allegations form a central part of the Vatican’s “trial of the century” and relate to a property deal where the Vatican invested £124m in a former Harrods warehouse in

Chelsea that was earmarked for development into luxury apartments.

The Vatican claims Mr Mincione defrauded it by inflating the price when his companies sold the property in 2018. Prosecutors have charged Mr Mincione and ten others with offences

including fraud, embezzlement and abuse of office. All ten, which include Angelo Becci, the former right-hand man to Pope Francis, deny wrongdoing.

However, Mr Mincione maintains he did not do anything wrong and that the property valuation

by independent experts was appropriate. He claims that the Vatican has never disclosed

evidence to show it lost money nor of his alleged wrongdoing.

As a result, Mr Mincione has brought a civil action in the UK courts as a “counterblast”

to the publicity and to protect his reputation after suffering “prejudice” as a result of the allegations.

Now the Court of Appeal has ruled that the Vatican should face trial in the English courts for

the first time in its history over the allegations that it has levelled against Mr Mincione.

In the latest move, Mr Mincione’s lawyers have written to the Vatican’s chief prosecutor Alessandro Diddi, accusing him of “factual misstatements and omissions” in the UK proceedings.

In the letter, Nick Vamos, the former head of special crime and head of extradition at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said these statements may mean Mr Diddi may have 

“committed the offence of perverting the course of justice”.

Partygate lawyer

Mr Vamos, who appeared as part of the legal team supporting Boris Johnson at his recent committee appearance over the partygate affair, asked Mr Diddi, a former mafia defence lawyer,

for a meeting in order to “understand your position as to what occurred, and why”. 

Mr Vamos copied his letter to various agencies including the CPS, the Home Office and the National Crime Agency.

In the letter, he challenged claims that the funds for investment came from St Peter’s Pence,

charitable Catholic donations intended for the needy, rather than Credit Suisse.

“You claimed that the funds for the investment by the Vatican came from Peter’s Pence, when in fact you knew that they were provided by Credit Suisse…

and you therefore wrongly characterised the deal as a misuse of charitable funds,”

wrote Mr Vamos.

“You claimed that the Vatican… was the subscriber, when in fact the subscriber was Credit Suisse… and you therefore wrongly characterised the investment.”

“This raises a number of potential issues as a matter of English law… the factual misstatements and omissions in your evidence raises the question of whether you committed the offence of

perverting the course of justice contrary to English common law.”

The Vatican has been contacted for comment.

Previously, a Vatican spokesman has commented: “The legitimacy of the investigations and the correspondence of the Vatican judiciary system to the principles of fair trial has been recognised by various foreign courts.” 

Reference: The Telegraph: Charles Hymas

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