Torzi associate is sole director of Vatican’s London property company

News: Vatican finances

The holding company which controls the London building at the center of the Vatican financial scandal has only one remaining director, an Italian architect and property developer with ties to several figures at the center of the Vatican finance scandal, including Gianluigi Torzi, the man accused of using the building to extort the Holy See for millions of euros.

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Even while key players in the transaction now face charges, Luciano Capaldo, a close associate of several people now under indictment, has been left in sole control of the U.K. company through which the Vatican manages the building.

After the Vatican gained control of the building in 2019, its management was transferred to London 60 SA Limited, a London company created and owned by the Secretariat of State.

London 60 SA Limited has had four registered directors since 2019. Three of them are employees or former employees of the secretariat who were been removed from the board in 2019. The fourth is Luciano Capaldo, who has been the company’s singular director since November 2019. 

As the only director of the company, Capaldo has effective sole control of the company and the building, though both are owned by the secretariat. 

It is not clear how Capaldo came to be chosen for a board role in the company, but the architect has business connections to Gianluigi Torzi, the broker charged with extorting the Vatican for 15 million euros in the final stage of the building’s sale. 

Another former director of London 60 SA, Msgr. Mauro Carlino, was among those charged on Saturday with extortion and abuse of office. 

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Capaldo is an Anglo-Italian architect currently living in London. His resumé describes him as a specialist in “real estate valuation” and “project-property design and management.”

The architect’s business ties connect him to figures in the Vatican’s financial scandal.

Capaldo was previously the chairman of Italian property development company Imvest from 2017 to 2018. At the time Capaldo was chairman, one of Imvest’s largest shareholders was FEG International Assets SA, a Luxembourg registered company controlled by Torzi.

In 2016, Imvest offices were raided by Italian financial police in connection to charges similar to those outlined by the Italian judge this week, including fraud, submission of false budgets, and false accounting.

Capaldo stepped down from Invest for “personal and family reasons,” on Nov. 26, 2018 —the same week the Vatican finalized its purchase of the London property.

From May to November 2018, Capaldo was listed as company secretary of Odikon Services, a company belonging to Gianluigi Torzi and the subject of a lawsuit for fraud in London’s High Court. Lawyers for Capaldo have said the architect was unaware of the Odikon lawsuit. 

When Capaldo was chairman of Imvest, the company’s CEO was Giacomo Capizzi, who is also CEO of Meti Capital, a company of which Capaldo owns personally almost 3%, and in which Torzi's company, Sunset Enterprises, is also a shareholder.

Capizzi was the administrator of the Sierra One Bond, a financial product valued at 100 million euros that was packaged and sold by Torzi’s company Sunset Enterprise Ltd. 

Sunset and Sierra One are at the center of a conflict of interest between Mincione and Torzi related to Torzi’s alleged attempts to extort the Vatican during the sale of the London building and has links to mafia affiliated companies.

Company records examined by The Pillar also show that, on Dec. 31, 2018, one month after the completion of the London building’s sale to the Vatican, Mincione’s Athena Global Opportunities Fund held 3.9 million euros of investment in Sierra One.

A key unexplained detail of Capaldo’s relationship with the Secretariat of State is his citizenship status. While currently listed in corporate filings in London as having both U.K. and Italian citizenship, Capaldo was first registered as a director of London 60 SA Ltd. as a “Vatican citizen” before this was changed in subsequent filings.

Vatican City citizenship is sometimes granted to lay people in full time curial service and living in Vatican City, but it is unclear why Capaldo would have been granted citizenship by the Secretariat of State if his job is to run a property investment in London.

Both Capaldo and the secretariat have previously refused to confirm if he was ever granted Vatican citizenship, and if so why. But the legal form declaring Capaldo to be a Vatican citizen had to be countersigned by the Secretariat of State and Capaldo himself, making clerical error highly improbable. 

Vatican citizenship could carry with it various tax benefits and access to banking privileges at the Holy See’s financial institutions including the IOR, which functions as a deposit bank. Accounts at those institutions have been used in the past by private individuals seeking to skirt international banking regulations and external scrutiny of business deals.

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With the details of the London property sale likely to be the focus of the prosecution’s questions, Capaldo’s ongoing role in managing the London building, and his past relationship with both the Secretariat of State and the businessmen who created the deal, is likely to come under renewed scrutiny. 

The first hearing in the trials of the 10 individuals named in the indictments announced on July 3 is set for later this month.