Trial opens for Bertone corruption scandal

ROME- The trial opened on Tuesday for investigation into the corruption scandal surrounding the payment of the refurbishment of cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s apartment. According to the Vatican Public Prosecutor, Giuseppe Profiti and Massimo Spina, ex-president and ex-treasurer of Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital, “used, in an illegal way and to the advantage of the entrepreneur Bandera, funds belonging to Bambino Gesu... in particular funds were used for a completely non-institutional purpose (422,000 euros) to pay for refurbishment works for the designated residence for the Secretary of State [Bertone]”.

The cardinal could be called to testify at the trial which started Tuesday morning at the Vatican in relation to the expenses.  A letter from the former Secretary of State, cited amongst other documents on the record, could clarify who was actually responsible for the decision to use said funds to pay the company who were carrying out the work at the time. The two accused of misappropriation of funds are former Bambino Gesu directors Massimo Spina and Giuseppe Profiti.

The renovation of the cardinal’s 700m2 luxurious residence on the third floor of the Palazzo San Carlo cost 792,000 euros, according to invoices. Castelli Re invoiced seven bills from its London office for a total of 422,000 euros, paid by Bambino Gesu for the work done on Bertone’s penthouse. However, four other bills exist that were invoiced to the Governorate of the Vatican City for 307,000 euros who requested that Bertone covered these costs. On top of this figure, Castelli Re also quoted 63,000 euros for additional work and materials. The invoices to Bambino Gesu and the Vatican amounted thus to a grand total of 792,000 euros.  

Profiti has been open about the use of these funds for the cardinal’s penthouse, explaining that “the idea of the funds was to promote meetings with businesses and people… and organisations to illustrate the activity of Bambino Gesu, to communicate and fundraise thus. It is true that we used funds allocated to use to refurbish a part of cardinal Bertone’s house in order to receive in return the option to use the apartment ourselves”. The Deputy Promotor of Justice explained in court that case on trial is against two physical people and not the Paediatric Hospital as a whole, who remain the offended party.

The case seemed to be heading towards a conclusion where the cardinal would give back the 150,000 euros to Bambino Gesu as form of compensation, according to Il Messagero. 

The next hearing is due on Sept 7, 8 and 9, when Pope Francis will be on a visit to Colombia.