Minsione is suing a Swiss bank over Vatican investments

Raphael Minsione. Photo courtesy.

The investment manager, who sold a building in London to the Vatican, filed a lawsuit against the Swiss bank, which arranged the investment of the Holy See with him. The lawsuit alleges that the bank misled him about the source of the Vatican’s money by not revealing that Pence and other funds reserved for charity had been withdrawn from Pence.

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Rafaele Minsione, who is currently on trial at the Vatican for financial crimes, filed a lawsuit in Luxembourg this month through his company WRM Group. WRM is seeking a total of 500 million euros from Credit Suisse, a bank long used by the Vatican Secretariat of State, and Citco, a private banking and investment firm based in the British Virgin Islands.

The case was filed on June 2nd, but details of the case were not made public until June 22nd. The news of the case was first reported by the Financial Times in London.

Mincione claims that Credit Suisse and Citco “have failed to disclose important information about the origin of the money they used to subscribe to the WRM Group’s sub-fund to conceal the exact origin of the funds in the Credit relationship.” Suisse, Citco and the Vatican.

Minsione was charged last year with financial crimes in the Vatican City State and is on trial along with several former investment advisers and Secretariat State officials accused. The lawsuit sometimes focuses on the Secretariat’s alleged use of Vatican funds for charity, including Peter’s Pence, to invest in a fund run by Mincione and ultimately to buy the London building from him.

The pillar previously reported that in 2014, the Vatican Secretariat of State was introduced to Minsione by Enrico Kraso, then an employee of Credit Suisse and later an investment manager for the Vatican with his own company and fund.

After an initial investment of 147 million euros, the Vatican eventually committed about 200 million to the fund in an investment agreed to last for up to seven years. According to a company statement, WRM claims that Credit Suisse “makes false statements and statements in subscription agreements” relating to the initial investment.

Significant media coverage focuses on the use of church charitable funds by the State Secretariat for speculative investments instead of for charitable purposes.

According to a WRM statement released on June 22, Mincione is now “accused in the Vatican and the Vatican of using funds from Peter’s Pence – a Vatican fund that collects donations from the public and is intended to be used only for charity – to fund the acquisition of a 45% stake in [the London property at 60 Sloane Ave.]dispute the fact that neither he nor the WRM Group were informed of this at the time and were both misled by Credit Suisse and Citco into believing that the funds came from other sources.

The pillar previously reported that the money invested by the Secretariat of State had been lent by Swiss banks, including Credit Suisse, with the Vatican using as collateral other Vatican funds and assets held in deposit with the same banks, including charities such as Peter’s Pence . The pillar also previously reported that this method was used to help conceal the existence of loans and investments in the Vatican’s internal balance sheets, a practice prohibited by the norms issued by Pope Francis.

The money was invested in the Athena Global Opportunities fund, which was set up by Mincione to manage the Vatican’s investment with it. Minsione uses funds from the Vatican to invest in other businesses and projects. He lent his business without penalties, while charging the Vatican millions of euros in implementation and management fees.

In June 2020, the official media of the Vatican described its management of investments for the Secretariat of State as “speculative” and “conflict of interest”.

Mincione’s largest investment on behalf of the Vatican was a 45% stake in Sloane Ave 60’s London property. The building was owned by Mincione through another of his companies.

In the second half of 2018, after the departure of Cardinal Angelo Becciu from the post of sostituto, the Secretariat of State decided to terminate its investment in Mincione a few years before the agreed deadline, imposing severe sanctions for withdrawal from the fund.

The Secretariat agreed with Mincione that the Vatican would lose all funds invested through the Mincione Fund in exchange for ownership of the London building. The secretariat also claimed responsibility for a € 150 million loan related to the building, which means that the building costs them a total of € 350 million.

The Vatican has since sold the building for a reported loss of more than 100m euros. Mincione originally bought the building in 2012 for 129 million pounds, about 149 million euros.

The case, filed in Luxembourg, follows previous efforts by Minsione to defend his relationship with the Secretariat of State in courts outside the Vatican, where he is on trial.

Minsione petitioned the Supreme Court of England and Wales in June 2020 for declaratory damages against the Secretariat of State, asking judges to rule that he had “acted in good faith” in his relations with the Vatican, claiming that the Holy See was trying to canceled the sale of the building at 60 Sloane Ave.

In this case, the Secretariat of State claims that Minsione filed the case “in order to have something to say to the media and the Vatican’s criminal court to support the sincerity of his allegations of innocence.”

In a decision last November, Judge Simon Salcedo ruled that “proceedings must be suspended until a substantial change of circumstances occurs”, effectively suspending the case pending the Vatican’s own criminal proceedings against Minsione.

A Swiss court recently also dismissed Mincione’s lawsuit against the country’s financial authorities, which seized Mincione’s bank accounts and assets totaling up to 60m euros. The funds were seized in 2021 in response to a request from Vatican authorities.

Minsione is accused of embezzlement, abuse of office, fraud and money laundering in the current Vatican trial.

Appearing in court last month, he told judges he was offended at the time [legal] legal proceedings and skinning in the newspapers as a criminal ”and insisted that the Vatican’s losses on the London building were the result of his own decision to withdraw early from his fund.

Minsione also faces questions about his relationship with Gianluigi Torzi, the Vatican’s chosen broker in the London estate, accused of trying to extort millions from the Holy See in the final purchase of the building.

Although in the past Minsione belittled his relationship with Torsi, describing them simply as “two Italians living in London”, he admitted in court on Monday that Torsi was “a man I knew and with whom I had made some deals before”, but insisted that he had played no part in his recommendation to the Vatican to represent their interests and that he was “completely unknown” to “all subsequent events between Torsi and the Secretariat of State.”

The pillar previously reported that over the years the Secretariat of State had invested in the Athena Global Opportunities Fund, Mincione invests Vatican money in debt products sold by Torzi, some of which are linked to mafia-related companies. Minsione is investing money from the Vatican in such a debt a product called Sierra One bond,

Torsions in turn used his companies to give Minsion tens of millions of euros during the same period.

The trial against the Vatican continues.

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