CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – An Australian anti-corruption agency said on Wednesday that it was not investigating a transfer of Vatican funds to Australia due to a lack of evidence of misconduct, further undermining Italian media speculation that the money may be linked to cancellations. Cardinal George Pell’s conviction of child sexual abuse.
The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera speculated last month that Vatican investigators were investigating whether Pell’s enemy in the Holy See, who overthrew Cardinal Angelo Becciu, transferred 700,000 euros ($ 823,000) in Vatican money to a bank account in Australia, and whether the money was linked to the Court. sexual harassment of Pell.
The Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission said it “received information based on media reports that suspect Vatican funds have been transferred to individuals to support recent cases against” Pell.
The commission is an anti-corruption body investigating the public sector, including the police, in the state of Victoria where Pell was convicted in 2018.
The commission said it had reviewed Vatican information and found the threshold for initiating an investigation had not been met.
“This matter will only be considered further if there is additional reliable information available,” the commission said in a statement.
Victoria Police, who in 2017 charged Pell with child sexual abuse, said last month it had also been informed of Vatican money transfers but had no reason to investigate.
But the Australian Federal Police, who referred the allegations to the anti-corruption agency, has not ruled out its own criminal investigation.
The national police said on Wednesday that it was continuing to review “relevant information”, a first step towards a formal criminal investigation.
The police gave no indication that the potential crime was linked to Pell’s sentence.
Italian newspapers speculated that Becciu may have “bought” the testimony of Pell’s accusers in order to get Pell out of the Vatican. Becciu and Pell are known to have clashed over efforts to clean Pell’s finances on the Holy See. Pell’s accusers, who cannot be identified, have denied the allegations.
The newspaper report lacks source, attribution or detail and appears to be more of an attempt to discredit Becciu and divert attention from the shortcomings of the Vatican prosecutors’ primary investigation into the London real estate venture.
Pell was convicted by a jury in a Victorian court for allegedly molesting two choir children at St’s Cathedral. Patrick was in Melbourne when he became archbishop in the 1990s, but was eventually acquitted by the Australian High Court.
Pell was brought in by Pope Francis to bring accountability and transparency to the Vatican’s opaque finances in 2014.
He returned to the Vatican last month to meet with Francis and clean up his apartment after Becciu was fired over allegations that he transferred 100,000 euros ($ 118,000) in Vatican funds to a charity led by his brother.
Becciu has denied wrongdoing with the funds and has repeatedly denied involvement in Pell’s charges.