THE Australian Federal Police has found no criminal misconduct after completing an investigation into huge payments made from the Vatican to Australia.
There were claims that money transfers of almost $3million sent to Australia could have been connected to an international money laundering and fraud scandal.
The Australian international financial watchdog, AUSTRAC, referred the transfers during the last six years to the Australian Federal Police as “actionable financial intelligence”.
However the AFP has released a statement confirming that it had “completed analysis of the financial intelligence provided by AUSTRAC” and found “no criminal misconduct… to date.”
“If the AFP receives additional information from Australian or international partners it will be reviewed accordingly,” the AFP statement released on February 3 said.
A scandal blew up last October after several Italian newspapers reported unsubstantiated claims that Italian Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu was suspected of wiring $1.14 million to Australia in 2018 during Cardinal Pell’s sexual abuse trial.
Two newspapers, La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, reported that Cardinal Pell’s reformist agenda, while working in the Vatican, threatened to expose alleged corruption committed by Cardinal Becciu when he distributed millions of dollars worth of donations between 2011 and 2018.
Cardinal Becciu denied the allegations against him, including any interference with Cardinal Pell’s trial.
After the Italian newspaper coverage, AUSTRAC confirmed it provided information about money transfers from the Vatican to Australia to both the AFP and Victoria Police.
The Australian money transfers were part of a wider investigation by Vatican prosecutors inquiring into transactions around a troubled $360m London property deal, which led to criminal charges being laid against now-sacked Cardinal Becciu.
Last April the High Court of Australia quashed Cardinal Pell’s sexual abuse convictions on appeal and he was freed from a Victoria prison after serving more than 400 days behind bars.