A cardinal has appeared for the first time in the dock at the Vatican as he stood trial along with nine other defendants on Tuesday over a loss-making property deal in London.

The Vatican court is investigating the role played by Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, 73, and others accused in the investment scandal that involved using Church money to buy a luxury property in London’s affluent Chelsea district.

Several hundred million euros are said to have been paid for the purchase, commissions and deals.

In addition to Becciu, there are also former Vatican officials, including financial managers and a security advisor.

They face charges including abuse of office, money laundering, fraud and embezzlement.

The criminal trial is one of the largest in the Vatican to date and the case file spans hundreds of pages. Becciu, who was a deputy in the Vatican Secretariat of State, is the first cardinal to go on trial at the Vatican.

The Secretariat of State, the central administrative authority in the Vatican, is acting as joint plaintiff in the trial.

Becciu had defended the investment and said he never acted in any personal self-interest. In remarks earlier this month, he denied the corruption allegations and said he was a “victim of a plot meant to damage” him.

Several Vatican and Italian authorities have been investigating the matter since July 2019. In the process, the investigations extended to the United Arab Emirates, Britain, Jersey, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Switzerland.

The move, according to the Holy See, follows reforms for more transparency in the Vatican’s finances by Pope Francis.

In 2019, the failed luxury London property deal made headlines as the deal had caused heavy losses for the Holy See at the time.

Adding to the outrage, it was revealed that the real-estate venture was funded, in part, though donations from the faithful via the Church’s Peter’s Pence charity.

Cardinal in the dock in Vatican trial
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