A Vatican court has sentenced the head of one of the city-state's banks to nearly nine years in prison for aggravated embezzlement and money laundering.
The former head of a Vatican bank, Angelo Caloia, was handed an eight-year and 11-month term Thursday.
The 81-year-old Vatican bank president is the highest-ranking Vatican official ever to be convicted of a financial crime. The court charged Caloia with embezzling money while overseeing the sale of several properties owned by Vatican bank officially known as the Institute of Works of Religion.
Court documents said that Caloia also allegedly declared a much lower amount of the property sales. Caloia served as the president of the institute from 1999 to 2009. Caloia's lawyers said that they will be appealing his sentence.
Apart from Caloia, the Vatican court also sentenced two lawyers who were allegedly involved in the sale of the property. The men allegedly conspired to make millions of dollars from the below-market sale of around 20 institute properties located in Italy.
The men allegedly laundered the illicitly acquired money in Switzerland. The court said that the men pocketed a sum of around $23 million. Prosecutors pegged the amount to be around $71 million in total, but the court found no credible evidence of wrongdoing for the other deals under scrutiny.
Gabriele Luizzo, 97, was given the same sentence as Caloia. His son, Lamberot Liuzzo, 55, was sentenced to five years and two months in prison. The two men worked as consultants to the bank.
All three were ordered to pay fines and are forever banned from holding any public office in the Vatican.
During the trial, all three men denied any wrongdoing and pleaded innocent. The trail, which started in 2018, is one of the latest in a long line of high-profile financial scandals involving high-ranking Vatican officials.
In September last year, Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu was forced to step down from his position following allegations of financial misconduct. Becciu - one of the city-state's most powerful cardinals - was accused of embezzlement. Becciu denied the accusations and proclaimed his innocence on several occasions.
In 2013, Pope Francis established a special expert committee aimed at weeding out corruption and coming up with recommendations to reform the city-state's administrative structure.