Vatican tribunal rejects auditor’s wrongful termination lawsuit in a case that exposed dirty laundry

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ROME (AP) — The Vatican tribunal has rejected a wrongful termination lawsuit brought by the Holy See’s former auditor general and ordered him to pay restitution in a case that exposed the unseemly side of Pope Francis’ financial reforms.

Libero Milone and his late deputy had sued the Holy See for 9.3 million euros, claiming they were essentially extorted by Vatican police and forced to resign in 2017 or risk arrest and prosecution for their work investigating and auditing the Holy See’s finances.

POPE FRANCIS SAYS ‘LURE OF CORRUPTION’ IS CONSTANT THREAT IN THE VATICAN

In a decision released Wednesday, the tribunal rejected their claims. The tribunal found that the main target of the lawsuit, the Vatican secretariat of state, couldn’t be held liable for the alleged harm suffered by Milone and his deputy, Ferruccio Panicco.

It ordered them to pay more than 110,000 euros in restitution to the secretariat of state and the office of the auditor general, which was also named in the lawsuit. Panicco died last year, but his estate remained as a plaintiff in the case.

Milone declined to comment late Wednesday.

In the lawsuit, the auditors said they uncovered astonishing financial malpractice in the “viper’s nest” of the Vatican after Francis began a process of financial housecleaning. They said they believed they were forced out because certain cardinals and monsignors “felt threatened by the investigations and simple requests for clarification.”

They identified Cardinal Angelo Becciu, then the powerful chief of staff in the secretariat of state, as having orchestrated their ouster. But the tribunal found that Becciu wasn’t acting in his official capacity in his dealings with them.

Becciu was recently convicted by the same tribunal of embezzlement and sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison in connection with his role in other Vatican financial dealings.

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