The Daily Telegraph reports : A cardinal sacked by the Pope for alleged embezzlement has been accused of funneling €500,000 to an Italian woman who spent some of the cash on luxury shoes, handbags and accessories.
Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who was stripped of his rights as a cardinal by Pope Francis last month, allegedly paid the money from Vatican funds to Cecilia Marogna, who claims to be an intelligence operative with links to the Italian secret services.
She reportedly spent it on buying shoes, clothes and luxury items from brands such as Prada, Tod’s, Moncler and Mont Blanc, according to Corriere della Sera, an Italian daily, basing its report on leaked Vatican documents.
Ms Marogna admitted to receiving the €500,000 in Vatican funds through a company she runs that is based in Slovenia.
But she said she had spent it on “diplomatic trips, paying sources for information, mediation and donations to humanitarian organisations.”
It was the latest tangled web of claims and counter-claims to involve Cardinal Becciu, 72, a once powerful Vatican figure who is being investigated for his role in the buying of a £400 million pound property in London.
Cardinal Becciu has denied any wrongdoing in the London sale.
He also denied wrongdoing in relation to the latest claims, telling Corriere della Sera “they’ve told me not to say anything”, an apparent reference to his lawyers.
He is under investigation by Vatican prosecutors for alleged embezzlement.
Ms Marogna, 39, conceded that she may have once used some of the money to buy a handbag. “It was for the wife of a Nigerian friend who was able to put me in touch with the president of Burkina Faso,” she said.
She strenuously denied reports that she was the cardinal’s lover, calling them “absurd”.
She said she was a “political analyst and intelligence expert” with high-level contacts in the Italian secret services and had first met the cardinal in 2015 in Rome.
He had engaged her to advise on security arrangements for the Vatican’s embassies in North Africa and the Middle East, she said.
She had been paid the €500,000 over a period of four years.