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Deja vu in Vatican as ‘Vatileaks’ defendant cited at trial


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ROME — The Vatican court hearing a financial crime case had something of a déjà vu on Tuesday when a prominent defendant in an earlier trial over leaked documents emerged as a public figure. a key player in advising the prosecution’s lead witness to cooperate with prosecutors.

Prosecutor Alessandro Diddi announced that he received a series of 126 text messages over the weekend explaining how the prosecution’s key witness, Monsignor Alberto Perlasca, decided to change his story and cooperate with the prosecution. investigation into the Vatican’s negligent investment in a London property.

Diddi said the messages came from a longtime confidant of Perlasca, Genevieve Ciferri, who said she asked Perlasca to tell his story in a detailed memo he sent on the day August 31, 2020, Diddi said. Ciferri said the topics covered in the memo were suggested to her by Francesca Immaculata Chaouqui.

Chaouqui is a Rome-based public relations consultant who was convicted in 2016 by a Vatican court in the second “Vatileaks” scandal, of conspiring to reveal confidential documents to two houses. investigation report. She was working on a papal oversight committee investigating Vatican finances at the time and was sentenced to 10 months of probation.

One of the transactions the supervisory committee is investigating is a real estate transaction in London, at the heart of the current trial.

Perlasca is the Vatican official most intimately responsible for managing the secretariat’s 600-million-euro portfolio of assets, which includes a 350-million-euro investment in London real estate. At first, when he was under investigation, his August 31, 2020 memo and subsequent interrogations made him a key witness for the prosecution after he named and dumped his name. blame others for tricking the Holy See and blackmailing the Holy See to gain control of the building.

Prosecutors brought 10 people to trial, including a cardinal, and charged them with a range of financial crimes including fraud, embezzlement, extortion and corruption. They deny any wrongdoing. Perlasca is now considered an injured party in the case, eligible for civil damages in the event of conviction.

Perlasca began answering affidavits last week and told the court Tuesday that he believes Ciferri is providing him with advice from someone she identifies as legal counsel. He said he only learned on Friday that the consultant was Chaouqui.

Ciferri will answer prosecutors’ questions this Friday.

Also present on Tuesday was Fabio Perugia, a financial consultant directly involved in the case and a spokesman for the Jewish community in Rome.

The chief justice of the court, Judge Giuseppe Pignatone, asked Perugia how he felt about taking the biblical oath to tell the truth, as is required of all witnesses. Citing his Jewish faith, Perugia refused and Pignatone demanded that he only tell the truth.

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