ROME (Reuters) – A 39-year-old Italian woman with ties to a deposed Roman Catholic cardinal was arrested on Tuesday in connection with the latest financial scandal in the Vatican, Italian police and the Vatican said.
Cecilia Maronia worked for Cardinal Angelo Becciu, a former senior Vatican official fired last month by Pope Francis on charges of embezzlement and nepotism. Becciu denied any wrongdoing.
A spokesman for the Italian financial police told Reuters that Maronia had been arrested in Milan. Italian media reported that she was arrested on an international warrant issued by Vatican magistrates.
A senior Vatican source said magistrates from the Holy See suspected Maronia of embezzlement and aggravated embezzlement in complicity with others.
In recent days, Italian media have conducted interviews in which Maronia said she received 500,000 euros ($ 587,350) from Beccio to lead “parallel diplomacy”
Her alleged job for the Vatican Secretariat of State, where Becciu held No. 2 until 2018, was not previously known.
Beccio’s lawyer, Fabio Vilione, said the cardinal knew Maronia, but that his relationship with her was “exclusively on institutional issues”.
Marogna, who, like Becciu, is from Sardinia, said the funds she claims to have received from Becciu went through a company she set up in Slovenia.
Becciu has also been embroiled in a Vatican scandal over the use of church money to invest in a luxury building in London.
During his tenure as No. 2 in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, this department bought a luxury building in London as an investment.
A Vatican investigation into the deal, involving several Italian intermediaries, led to the removal last year of five Vatican officials, the resignation of the Vatican police chief and the resignation of the former head of the Vatican Financial Information Authority (AIF).
Beciu denied any wrongdoing in the deal and defended the purchase, saying the property had increased in value.
Report by Philip Pulela in Rome; Edited by Mark Heinrich and Matthew Lewis