Former cardinal Angelo Becciu, then number two at the powerful Secretariat of State, goes to trial Tuesday.
Prosecutors allege that ten defendants, including high-rolling London financiers and church employees, engaged in various crimes such as embezzlement, fraud, and corruption.
The former cardinal is the highest-profile defendant embroiled in the Church’s ruinous purchase of a 17,000-sq metre London property in the upmarket neighbourhood of Chelsea under his watch.
He says he is the innocent victim of a plot and is the first time a cardinal has been indicted by Vatican criminal prosecutors in modern history.
The case dates from 2013 when the Secretariat borrowed more than $200 million, mainly from Credit Suisse, to invest in a Luxembourg fund managed by an Italian-Swiss businessman, Raffaele Mincione, prosecutors say.
By 2018, the Vatican had already lost millions and tried to pull out of the deal, but had already failed to pull it out of it, say prosecutors.
It also includes separate allegations over hundreds of thousands of euros of church funds paid to his brother”s charity funds, prosecutors claim.
The scandal is particularly embarrassing because funds used for risky ventures.