Pell case: Victoria Police to no longer probe Vatican money transfer
SYDNEY (AUSTRALIA) – Police in Victoria state of Australia said on Friday they were not conducting any further probe into transfer of money from the Vatican to the country, which Italian media said was done during the prosecution of the former treasurer of the Holy See Cardinal George Pell.
In a statement, Victoria Police said the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) had told them of the “transfer of monies from the Vatican over a period of time to Australia”, adding that the watchdog had not alerted them of any suspicious activity related to the money transfer.
“In the absence of any other evidence or intelligence Victoria Police has noted the advice from AUSTRAC. We are not at this time conducting any further investigation.”
The head of the watchdog told a Senate committee that it had investigated the allegations that the Vatican pumped in money into Australia amid the prosecution of Pell who was charged with child sex abuse and had tipped off the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Victoria Police.
The AFP said on Wednesday the information was being scrutinised and some aspects of it had been referred to the Victorian Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC), which probes misconduct by state police.
Victoria Police in 2017 charged Pell with child sex offences. But only one case involving two former choirboys went to trial the following year.
Local media in Italy reported that Pell’s arch-enemy in the Vatican, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, sent 700,000 euros ($828,000) to Australia in order to help Pell’s enemies when he was facing charges. However, Becciu’s lawyer has denied the reports.
In April, the Australian High Court acquitted Pell, who served 13 months in prison on charges of assaulting two choirboys.