Vatican releases financial figures, says it may have been swindled

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican on Thursday released its most detailed-ever financial figures and, as it comes under scrutiny by the faithful over financial scandals, said it might have been swindled in some of its investment deals.

The Vatican economy minister, Father Juan Antonio Guerrero, said the Vatican’s total net assets in 2019 were about four billion euros, which is believed to be the first time any such figure has been given.

He spoke in an interview with Vatican media as the Vatican released a 12-page consolidated financial statement for the Holy See, the central administration of the Roman Catholic.

It includes Vatican departments that oversee the governing of the 1.3 billion-member worldwide Church, its media operations and its embassies abroad.

It does not include the Vatican bank and the Vatican museums, which are both big money-makers.

The 4.0 billion figure, which Guerrero gave in passing in the interview without providing details, is all-encompassing, while the detailed consolidated statement regarded only the Holy See.

The consolidated financial statement was the first since 2016.

The Vatican has been caught up in a scandal involving the purchase by its Secretariat of State of a luxury building in London through intermediaries it has accused of being unscrupulous.

One of the key figures involved in the London deal, Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, was fired by Pope Francis last week under separate accusations of embezzlement and nepotism.

“It is possible that in some cases, the Holy See was, apart from being badly advised, was also swindled,” Guerrero said.

The consolidated financial statement showed that the Holy See had a deficit of 22 million euro in 2019 after extraordinary expenses that year, down from a deficit of 50 million euros in 2018.

Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

FILE PHOTO: A nun passes by tourists taking pictures on St. Peter’s Square as Pope Francis gives his weekly general audience virtually from a library inside the Vatican due to measures to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Vatican August 5, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

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