InvestigationFigures from this Catholic congregation shaken by sex scandals discreetly exfiltrated hundreds of millions of dollars before it was taken over by the Vatican in 2010.
On this July 9, 2010, the hour is serious for the Legion of Christ. The powerful Catholic congregation, founded in 1941 by the Mexican priest Marcial Maciel Degollado, is preparing to come under the tutelage of the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI has given full powers to one of his most faithful lieutenants to reform this religious order, shaken by a decade of scandals, between sexual violence and embezzlement. Parachuted at the head of the congregation, Cardinal de Paolis, former Vatican finance minister, has a clear mission: to investigate suspicions of sex crimes and set up a commission to compensate possible victims, while unraveling the tortuous labyrinth financier of those who have earned over the years the nickname of “Millionaires of Christ”.
Shortly after his arrival, the Vatican envoy takes stock of a financial situation “Worrying”. Ruined, the Legion of Christ will not be able to compensate victims of sexual violence up to what they demanded. What he did not know was that, three days before his arrival, influential leaders of the congregation had laid the first stones of a tortuous financial package which would allow the exfiltration of hundreds of millions of dollars abroad. .
This heavy secret is revealed, eleven years after the facts, by the “Pandora Papers”, a leak of confidential documents on tax havens obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). Documents reviewed by the ICIJ and its partners reveal the existence of three ultra-opaque structures in New Zealand linked to the congregation: the AlfaOmega Trust, the Salus Trust and the Retirement and Medical Charitable Trust. retirement and medical care ”).
A heritage of 270 million dollars
The “trust” is an Anglo-Saxon instrument designed to facilitate the transmission of assets within families, or the management of charitable activities. But the opacity of their operation has turned them into a privileged tool for fraud and financial manipulation.
These three trusts held, in 2017, a total heritage of 270 million dollars, in the form of bank assets in Switzerland and various participations. Among them, a chain of detoxification clinics, a manufacturer of dietary supplements, but also shares in Pensam Capital, an American real estate firm, known for having evicted many tenants in arrears during the pandemic, despite a national moratorium. According to confidential documents consulted by the ICIJ, these investments generate millions of dollars in profits each year. For whose benefit? This is where the mystery thickens.
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