Australian police not investigating Vatican money transfer

Associated Press

October 22, 2020

By Rod McGuirk

Australian state police said Friday they’re not investigating the transfer of money from the Vatican to Australia, throwing doubt on Italian media speculation that it might be linked to the overturned convictions of Cardinal George Pell for child sex abuse.

Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera speculated in recent weeks that Vatican investigators were looking into whether Pell’s nemesis at the Holy See, ousted Cardinal Angelo Becciu, wired 700,000 euros ($823,000) in Vatican money to a bank account in Australia, and whether that money was tied to Pell’s sex abuse trial.

Victoria Police, which in 2017 charged Pell with child sex abuse, said the Australian intelligence agency responsible for detecting international financial crime, AUSTRAC, had confirmed that Vatican money had been wired to Australia.

But AUSTRAC had “not advised Victoria Police of any suspicious activity related to these transactions,” the police department said.

“In the absence of any other evidence or intelligence, Victoria Police has noted the advice from AUSTRAC. We are not at this time conducting any further investigation,” a police statement said.

But it does not rule out criminality or corruption in the money transfers.

Australian Federal Police said Wednesday it was “undertaking a review of the relevant information” provided by AUSTRAC. A review of evidence is a preliminary step toward an official criminal investigation.

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