The cardinal told the tribunal of judges overseeing the trial that the purchase was approved by both Pope Francis and his second-in-command, Parolin. Becciu also underlined that he did not make any decision without having previously consulted Monsignor Alberto Perlasca, who formerly headed the Secretariat’s administrative office.
Becciu called the charge that he misused Vatican funds “unfounded accusations,” saying that his authority as substitute included administering the Secretariat’s accounts, which he claims contained roughly $700 million when he took the job in 2011. “There was never any objection” from Parolin or the pope regarding the investments, he said.
Becciu said the Secretariat of State did not fall under the jurisdiction of auditors, bankers or managers at the Vatican, characterizing it as “an ivory tower.”
The motivation for the deal, he claimed, was the need for cash to finance the operations of the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s bureaucracy. “We were forced to invest and find the money,” he said.
Becciu said Perlasca warded him off his suggestion that the Secretariat invest in an oil rig in Angola, where he had served as papal representative earlier in his career. Others in the Secretariat decided to invest in the London property instead, and he had no role in setting up the deal, he said. Becciu criticized Perlasca for not informing him of the details of the deal “when I was his superior.“
Becciu rebutted the idea that the money for the investment came from Peter’s Pence, saying the purchase came out of reserve funds of the Secretariat.
He said Perlasca, initially a focus of the investigations before becoming a witness in the proceedings, regarded his office at the Secretariat as “a small kingdom that he felt he headed.”
“In all my administration, I never made a decision on financial matters” without Perlasca’s advice, Becciu said.
After Perlasca was fired from the Secretariat, Becciu testified, the monsignor was depressed and talked about a desire to kill himself in early July 2020. Becciu said that Geneviève Putignani, a rich Italian who Becciu claimed had paid Perlasca handsomely to perform Masses for her after her death, lobbied the cardinal to come to Perlasca’s defense after his ouster.
In a 2020 interview in the Italian newspaper La Verità, Putignani said Becciu had accused her of plotting against him while “blaspheming God and yelling things against the pope.” Becciu has filed defamation claims against both Putignani and Perlasca.