Cardinal Becciu Vatican scandal: Woman wired £455,000 is arrested

Woman who received £455,000 in Vatican cash from Cardinal Angelo Becciu – recently fired for misuse of funds – denies being his mistress as she is arrested in Italy

  • Cecilia Marogna, known in Italy as ‘the cardinal’s woman’, arrested on Tuesday 
  • She was paid £455,000 by sacked Cardinal Becciu, who is accused of corruption
  • She denied being his mistress, saying money was used for hostage negotiation 
  • But records show half the funds were spent on designer clothes and handbags 

A woman who was wired almost half a million pounds by a cardinal who is under investigation for corruption has been arrested in Italy.

Cecilia Moragna, 39, known in Italy as the ‘cardinal’s woman’, was arrested in Milan on Tuesday under a warrant issued by the Vatican, local media reported.

The arrest comes two weeks it was revealed that Cardinal Angelo Becciu, sacked last month amid claims of conspiracy, had wired £455,000 of Vatican funds to a Slovenian company called Logsic that she controls.

Moragna has previously denied being 72-year-old Becciu’s mistress, saying that she is a security and espionage expert paid by Becciu to negotiate the release of kidnapped priests and nuns in Africa and Asia. 

Cecilia Moragna, 39 (left), known in Italy as the ‘cardinal’s woman’, has been arrested over £455,000 she was sent by Cardinal Becciu (right), who is under investigation for corruption

But copies of Logsic’s accounts that were sent anonymously to Italian media outlets revealed that at least half of the money had been spent on luxury items including handbags and designer clothes.

Among the bills were £2,000 spent in Prada, £7,300 in Chanel, and almost £11,000 spent in designer store Poltrona Frau on an armchair.

‘I think I have the right to buy myself an armchair after all that work!’ Marogna said, while claiming she is an innocent victim of internal Vatican power struggles. 

Appearing before journalists in early October with her face hidden behind large sunglasses, Marogna confirmed that the sum of 500,000 euros had been paid to her Ljubljana-based company.

The cardinal authorised the payments to her while serving as number two in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, which manages the Church’s vast donations.

Becciu is accused of orchestrating the downfall of Cardinal George Pell (pictured), who was charged with getting the Vatican’s finances in order, to cover up his own misdeeds 

Cardinal Pell was jailed for six years in 2019 for allegedly abusing choir boys, before his conviction was overturned. He was welcomed back to Rome by Pope Francis this week 

‘I didn’t steal a single euro,’ Cecilia Marogna told newspaper Domani of the payments made in tranches of tens of thousands of euros.

Rather, ‘I have a letter from the cardinal giving me the right to travel and conduct diplomatic relations to help the Church in difficult regions,’ she said, claiming to know ‘senior members of the Italian secret services’.

She told Corriere della Sera that she is ‘not Becciu’s mistress’, calling herself a ‘political analyst and intelligence expert’ with ‘a network of relationships in Africa and the Middle East’ to protect the Vatican’s representatives abroad.

Becciu, who previously held the Vatican’s number three job in the Secretariat of State, abruptly resigned on September 25.

It was later revealed that he did so after the order was given by Pope Francis.

Becciu is now suspected of high-level corruption, including buying a luxury London property, purchasing an Italian hospital, and wiring money to his brothers.

Becciu is now accused of wiring funds to witnesses in Pell’s case to give evidence against him. The cardinal’s former assistant has had his office raided by police, and is cooperating (file)

He is further accused of orchestrating the downfall of Cardinal George Pell, who was brought into the Vatican with a remit of getting the church’s finances in order.

Becciu is accused of using £600,000 in church funds to bribe people to give evidence against Pell in his sex abuse trial, in which he was accused of abusing choir boys in the 1990s.

Pell was sentenced to six years in prison in May 2019, before the conviction was quashed on appeal.

Welcomed back to the Vatican by the Pope this week, suspicion has now fallen on Becciu – Pell’s rival. Becciu has denied any wrongdoing. 

Marogna’s arrest amid accusations of covert backstabbing has caught public attention because of her links to espionage.

The Australian reports that Moragna was paid the money to help Becciu build an ‘intelligence network’.

The payments were signed off by Monsignor Alberto Perlasca, Becciu’s former assistant, who is thought to have coordinated payments in the Pell case.

Perlasca is thought to be cooperating with investigators after his office was raided by police. 

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