A Vatican City flag seen from the Pontifical Urban University in Rome, Italy, on March 12, 2015. Credit: Bohumil Petrik/CNA.
The Vatican announced yesterday that the trial of an Italian woman for alleged embezzlement would begin soon.
A statement issued yesterday by the Holy See press office also indicated that the Vatican was dropping its request for the extradition of Cecilia Marogna from Italy.
It said: “On 13 January 2021, the investigating judge of the Tribunal of Vatican City State, accepting the request made by the Office of the Promoter of Justice, revoked the precautionary measure previously ordered against Ms. Cecilia Marogna, against whom a trial is about to take place for alleged embezzlement committed in conjunction with others.”
It continued: “The initiative intends, among other things, to allow the defendant — who has already refused to defend herself by not appearing for questioning before the Italian judicial authority, requested by the Promoter of Justice through a rogatory procedure — to participate in the trial in the Vatican, free from the pending precautionary measure against her.”
The Vatican issued the statement on the day that Italian judges had been due to rule on whether to allow Marogna’s extradition.
Marogna, a 39-year-old Sardinian, has been accused of misappropriating Vatican funds from payments of more than 500,000 euros (around $600,000) she received from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State through her Slovenia-registered company in 2018 and 2019.
Marogna has said that she worked for the Secretariat of State as a security consultant and strategist. She acknowledged receiving hundreds of thousands of euros from the Vatican but insisted that the money was for her Vatican consultancy work and salary.
Marogna was held in custody following her arrest on 13 October on an international warrant reportedly issued by the Vatican through Interpol.
A court of appeal in Milan decided on 30 October to release Marogna from the city’s San Vittore jail on condition that she registered her presence daily with local police, the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano reported.
In December, the Court of Cassation, Italy’s highest court, annulled a lower court’s validation of the precautionary measure against Marogna.
Italian media alleged that funds intended for humanitarian purposes were used for personal expenses, including stays at luxury hotels and purchases of designer label handbags. But Marogna insisted that expensive gifts “were used to create cooperative relationships.”
Media have also claimed that the payments were made under the direction of Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the former sostituto of the Secretariat of State and a fellow Sardinian.
Becciu resigned from his curial position and gave up his rights as a cardinal on 24 September, reportedly in connection with multiple financial scandals dating back to his time as the second-ranking official at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.
He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
In October, lawyers representing Becciu denied Italian media reports that the former curial official had been summoned by the Vatican in connection with payments to Marogna.
“In the interest of His Eminence the Cardinal, the defense attorneys once again reiterate that their client has not received any communication from the competent authority,” said lawyers Fabio Viglione and Agostinangelo Marras.