Woman close to Vatican cardinal arrested in corruption probe

Associated Press

October 14, 2020

By Nicole Winfield

The Vatican’s latest corruption scandal already had all the elements of a spy thriller: One cardinal who was fired during a “surreal” nighttime audience with the pope. Another cardinal, the nemesis of the first, who returned triumphantly to Rome after being acquitted of sexual abuse in Australia. And a fabulous luxury apartment building in London where the Holy See sank tens of millions of euros in donations from the faithful.

All that was missing was the mysterious woman who claimed to have links to the Italian secret services, and allegedly hoodwinked them all. Enter Cecilia Marogna, a 39-year-old political consultant who was arrested Tuesday in Milan on an international warrant issued by the Vatican, Italy’s financial police confirmed Wednesday.

Vatican prosecutors have accused Marogna of embezzling some 500,000 euros ($590,000) in Vatican money for intelligence consulting she never really performed, working out of a Slovenian front company and using at least half the money instead to buy merchandise from Prada, Chanel and other fancy brands, Italian news reports said.

According to Vatican documents published in Italian newspapers and shown on investigative television shows this week, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the onetime No. 2 in the Vatican secretariat of state, wired the funds to Marogna’s Logsic firm, purportedly for humanitarian operations in Africa and Asia.

Marogna has told Italian media she was a political analyst and intelligence expert who reached out to Becciu in 2015 with concerns about security for Vatican embassies in hot spots and was quickly brought into the cardinal’s inner circle.

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