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Shifty money and suspended audits at Vatican

VATICAN (SE): Described as a major blow to plans for the reform of Vatican financial affairs, the Secretariat of State informed all Vatican offices on April 20 that an outside audit being conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers has been suspended.

Nevertheless, Vatican officials insist that they are continuing their investigation in shifty money moves.

Judicial authorities are continuing an investigation into the former president, Massimo Spina, and former treasurer, Giuseppe Profiti, of the Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital, in connection with a case involving the financing of remodelling work on the Vatican apartment where Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, the former Vatican secretary of state, lives.

The audit was begun in December 2015, after George Cardinal Pell, the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, reported that a preliminary inquiry into Vatican financial affairs had uncovered a serious undervaluation of assets, as well as unsupervised spending that created opportunities for mismanagement and corruption.

Cardinal Pell had pressed energetically for the imposition of regular audits and uniform financial controls, to bring accountability to Vatican financial affairs.

His efforts have faced resistance from other offices of the Roman Curia and the suspension of the PricewaterhouseCoopers audit appears to reflect a setback for the Australian cardinal.

However, all situations have not been stabilised, as the Bambino Gesu paediatric hospital investigation testifies.

Greg Burke, the assistant director of the Vatican press office, told reporters on March 31 that Profiti and Spina are under investigation, although Cardinal Bertone is not.

Profiti resigned in January 2015 amid rumours that a significant amount of money from the foundation supporting the children’s hospital was used to help finance the renovation of the cardinal’s apartment.

Mariella Enoc, the current president of the hospital, told reporters in late December, “Cardinal Bertone never directly received money (from the hospital’s foundation), but recognised that we suffered a loss and, therefore, assisted us with a donation of €150,000 ($1.3 million).”

Emiliano Fittipaldi, a journalist currently on trial at the for publishing allegedly stolen Vatican documents, wrote in the Italian magazine, L’Espresso, on March 31 that the total cost of combining and remodelling two apartments was almost $3.7 million (US$480,000).

Cardinal Bertone has repeatedly disputed news reports about the size of the apartment and its cost, but he has insisted that he personally paid the Vatican, which owns the apartment, for the work done.

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