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Vatican sells property in London that has been center of investigation that includes Cardinal Angelo Becciu

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The Vatican announced July 1, 2022, it has completed the sale of a London property -- seen in this 2012 photo -- that is at the center of a Vatican trial for 10 people, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu, accused of financial malfeasance. (CNS photo/courtesy Marcin Mazur)

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican announced it has completed the sale of a property in London that is at center of a Vatican trial for 10 people, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu, accused of financial malfeasance.

In a statement released July 1, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, known by its Italian initials APSA, said the building at 60 Sloane Avenue in London’s posh Chelsea district was sold to Bain Capital, an American investment company, for 186 million pounds ($223.3 million).

Between 2014 and 2018, it is believed the Vatican Secretariat of State invested 200 million euros in purchasing the London property. In addition, payments to brokers and debts collected on the property raised the total investment to 350 million euros.

APSA said the losses from the sale of the property were absorbed by the “reserves” of the Vatican Secretariat of State “without touching funds from the Peter’s Pence collection and donations from the faithful in any way.”

However, some officials have argued that the “reserves” are, in fact, money set aside annually from the Peter’s Pence collection, which funds the charities of the pope and helps offset the costs of the Roman Curia and the Vatican nunciatures around the globe.

The ongoing Vatican trial of 10 individuals stems from an investigation into how the Secretariat of State purchased the Sloane Avenue property and why deal incurred such huge losses.

Alessandro Diddi, the Vatican’s deputy prosecutor, told the Vatican court in March that the Vatican lost an estimated 217 million euros ($242 million) in the failed investment.

Jesuit Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy, told Vatican News in late January that the loss from the London property investment “was already taken into account” in its budget projection for 2022.

With an initial sales agreement already signed, Father Guerrero said he expected the building to sell “above the valuation we had in the balance sheet and the appraisal made by the specialized institutions.”