By Vatican News staff writer
In a ruling on Thursday, the Tribunal of the Vatican City State concluded the trial instituted against the former president of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) Prof. Angelo Caloia, and lawyer Gabriele Liuzzo concerning the sale of 29 properties owned by the IOR and a subsidiary company, SGIR s.r.l.
In a statement, the Holy See Press Office said that the Tribunal found Caloia and Luizzo “guilty of several counts of embezzlement from the IOR, and others of aggravated embezzlement from SGIR s.r.l., as well as of the crime of self-laundering.” Both men were sentenced to a total of eight years and eleven months of imprisonment and a fine of 12,500 euros each.
Findings from investigation
According to the indictment based on investigations carried out in 2014 by the Promontory Group, Caloia and Liuzzo, in league with the then IOR general director, Lelio Scaletti (now deceased) manipulated the sales of the properties between 2002 and 2007, selling them below their market value and appropriating the difference. The sum, estimated at approximately 59 million euros, was partly laundered in Switzerland with the help of Liuzzo’s son, Lamberto Liuzzo.
The court also sentenced Lamberto Liuzzo to five years and two months’ imprisonment and imposed a fine of 8,000 euros on him for the crime of money laundering.
Experts estimate the IOR and SGIR lost approximately 34 million euros in potential revenue due to the undervaluing of the sales of the properties. The court also found evidence that in some cases, the defendants actually appropriated the part of the money paid by the buyers, or in any case money from the IOR and SGIR, to the tune of an estimated 19 million euros.
They were, however, acquitted of the charges relating to properties for which it had not been proven that they appropriated money, even though the purchase price of the properties was significantly lower than the market value at the time.
The preliminary hearing, which lasted about two years, made it possible to clarify the main aspects of the case with the contribution of all the parties and in full compliance with the cross-examination.
Compensation to IOR and SGIR
As part of the ruling, the court ordered the defendants to pay damages to the IOR and SGIR which had joined the proceedings as a plaintiff seeking damages, in excess of 20 million euros.
The defendants were also permanently banned from holding public office and were ordered to forfeit sums totaling approximately 38 million euros.
In addition, the court, on appeal, confirmed the application of preventive measures against Gabriele Liuzzo, ordering the confiscation of an already seized approximately 14 million euros deposited at the IOR, as well as another 11 million euros deposited with Swiss banks.
The Holy See Press Office said that the convictions were “the first application of the legislation introduced in December 2018, within the more general framework of the adaptation of Vatican legislation to international standards for combatting money laundering, corruption and other serious crimes.”