The Financial Times reports that a Vatican-backed investment fund at the centre of a financial corruption investigation was behind a group of investors that hired Giuseppe Conte — now Italy’s prime minister — to work on a deal it pursued just weeks before he took office.
The link to Conte, revealed in documents seen by the Financial Times, is likely to draw further scrutiny of the financial activity of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, the Holy See’s powerful central bureaucracy, which is the subject of an internal investigation over suspicious financial transactions.
Conte was a little-known Florence-based academic when he was hired in May 2018 to provide a legal opinion in favour of Fiber 4.0, a shareholder group involved in a fight for control of Retelit, an Italian telecoms company last year.
The lead investor in Fiber 4.0 was the Athena Global Opportunities Fund, funded entirely by $200m from the Vatican Secretariat and managed and owned by Raffaele Mincione, an Italian financier.
The ultimate source of Mincione’s funds was never declared in the shareholder battle for control of Retelit and was unknown before Vatican police this month raided the offices of the Secretariat to seize documents and computers due to concern over a luxury London property deal it struck with Athena.
See also: Vatican Police Investigating Holy See’s Chelsea Property Project