Vatican probes Bertone PH renovations

To suspected of misappropriating children's hospital funds

(ANSA) - Vatican City, March 31 - The Vatican is investigating two people for misappropriation in connection with expensive renovations to a penthouse apartment inhabited by its former Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican press office deputy chief Greg Burke said on Thursday.
    Burke said the probe began after allegations that the work was paid for by a foundation linked to the Bambin Gesù pediatric hospital in Rome, confirming an earlier report by L'Espresso news magazine. The pediatric hospital operates in the Italian national health system but is owned and managed by the Holy See.
    The suspects were named as the hospital's former chairman Giuseppe Profiti and its former treasurer, Massimo Spina.
    Cardinal Bertone is not under investigation, Burke added. On Thursday, L'Espresso anticipated a report to be published Friday claiming that judicial authorities at the Vatican had launched a probe into the funding scandal following revelations made by journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi in his controversial 2015 exposé book Avarice, on the Vatican's financial empire.
    Fittipaldi, who authored the Friday article, is on trial in the Vatican along with four others in the so-called Vatileaks 2 case involving the alleged leaking and publishing of confidential Vatican documents, some of which became material for his book.
    "Pope Francis' judges have already found evidence documenting how the renovations to the apartment were paid for by the Bambin Gesù pediatric hospital foundation," Fittipaldi wrote in the article.
    L'Espresso claims the renovations cost a total of 422,000 euros and were billed not to the contractor that actually carried out the work - the now-defunct Castelli Re - but to a London-based holding company controlled by Gianantonio Bandera, the owner of Castelli Re and Bertone's personal friend.
    "The money destined for sick children was in actuality used for the renovations and then sent on to London," Fittipaldi writes. "In addition to the seven invoices paid to the builder out of the Foundation's accounts at the Institute for Religious Works (IOR) and the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA), Pope Francis' magistrates also have signed letters nailing Benedict XVI's former secretary of state to his responsibilities," L'Espresso continued. The magazine is allegedly in possession of correspondence between Profiti and Bertone suggesting the manager offered to pay for the renovations through the foundation in exchange for hosting "institutional meetings" in the penthouse apartment, and that the cardinal accepted the offer the following day. "Bertone's name is not cited in the magistrates' document but the Holy See will find it hard to overlook his direct involvement in the scandal," L'Espresso said.
    The cardinal has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing over renovations to the penthouse in Via della Conciliazione near St Peter's Basilica.
    "I used my savings," Bertone wrote in Genoa-based Catholic weekly Il Cittadino last November.
    "I have the paperwork to prove I paid roughly 300,000 euros to the Vatican governorate from my own account.
    "I later discovered that the Bambin Gesu' Foundation had made a contribution for the same purpose," he continued.
    "I rule out having ever given indication or authorised the foundation to make any payment," the cardinal said.
    Cardinal Bertone also denied living in luxury.
    "The apartment measures 296 square metres and I don't live there on my own. I live with a community of nuns who help me," the prelate told Corriere della Sera newspaper at the time.
   

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