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Italian prosecutors to bring charges against Becciu’s brother

Public prosecutors in Sardinia are set to bring charges against the brother of Cardinal Angelo Becciu, after completing an investigation into alleged theft and fraud in the management of Church charitable funds.

Local police completed their investigation in January, according to a report from Rai, the Italian state broadcaster, and are expected to file charges against Antonio Becciu, his wife Giovanna Pani, and Pani’s daughter. 

Cathedral of Mary Immaculate in the Diocese of Ozieri, Sardinia. Image credit: Filippo Nieddu/Google

The local director of Caritas, Fr. Mario Curzu is also expected to be charged, along with five other individuals in the case, with prosecutors alleging the group misappropriated more than 2 million euros between 2013 and 2023. 


The money, identified as coming from the “eight per thousand” system by which Italians taxpayers are required to allocate .8% of their annual income tax return to a recognized religious body or state run social assistance program. 

According to investigators, the funds originated with the Italian bishops’ conference and were sent to the Sardinian Diocese of Ozieri but channeled into Church charitable accounts controlled by Antonio Becciu and Fr. Curzu and used to fund private interests and business ventures.

Lawyers for Becciu and Curzu issued a statement to media Tuesday saying that they have been  “aware of the investigation of the Public Prosecutor's Office of Sassari for some time” and now that it had concluded they “are finally allowed the possibility of clarifying the positions of all the people involved.”

The lawyers said that they “would have preferred the confidentiality on the facts,” rather than public disclosure of the allegations, until their clients had been able to offer their own account of events to prosecutors, but insisted they would mount a vigorous defense.

Becciu and Cruzu were repeatedly cited in the Vatican financial crimes trial, which concluded in December last year. Both men were summoned to appear as witnesses by judges in Vatican City to answer questions about the conduct of Cardinal Becciu, who was convicted on several counts of financial crimes and sentenced to five and a half years in prison.

Both Antonio Becciu and Fr. Cruzu refused to appear during the Vatican trial, despite repeated summons.

Sources close to the prosecution have previously told The Pillar that the priest and the cardinal’s brother refused to appear in court because they were concerned they would face the choice either to implicate themselves in criminal activity or make false statements, which could have been used against them by Italian prosecutors.

Cardinal Becciu has appealed his convictions — as have Vatican prosecutors, who are seeking a longer sentence.

Among the charges on which the cardinal was convicted, he was found by judges to have embezzled Church funds by arranging for more than hundreds of thousands of euros to be sent to bank accounts controlled by his brother, Antonio, who runs the Spes Cooperative, a Catholic charity in Sardinia.

The cardinal said during the trial that he authorized an initial 100,000 euro loan, later converted to a 50,000 euro donation from the Italian bishops’ conference, because he was “excited” by his brother’s charitable work which, he said, made him “blush, as a priest.”

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Asked about two more payments, one of which was made from a Vatican Secretariat of State account into his brother’s personal bank account and totaled 130,000 euros, Becciu insisted that it is ordinary practice for Vatican funds to be deposited with individuals, including family members, for charitable purposes. 

The cardinal was convicted for breaking Vatican City and canon laws prohibiting the alienation of Church funds or property to family members.

Both Vatican and Italian prosecutors have disputed how “charitable” the Becciu brothers’ purposes were, however. 

Italian financial police had identified forged delivery receipts for nearly 20 tons of bread, which was supposedly delivered to parishes by Spes for distribution to the poor.

In November 2022, Vatican prosecutors told the court that their Italian counterparts had found the forged receipts among nearly 1,000 pages of paperwork they examined.

When the paperwork for the supposed deliveries was produced, no one could recognize the signatures on the documents, prosecutors said. 

Italian financial police concluded that invoices were created just weeks before police searches, and were fabricated to cover supposed deliveries dating back to 2018, for which no other records exist.

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