The Vatican has withdrawn charges against its first auditor general, Libero Milone, who had claimed that his June 2017 arrest was an attempt to block his investigations into Vatican finances, where he reportedly was uncovering evidence of corruption.

In an interview aired on the Italian television channel SKY TG24 on Saturday, Milone revealed that the Vatican’s promoter of justice and the president of the Vatican Tribunal had informed him that he was no longer “subject to any criminal proceedings or convictions.” 

The Register has learned that the separate inquiry conducted by the Vatican promoter of justice with Milone’s lawyers came to the conclusion that no evidence existed to support the accusations that had been lodged against him.

Milone, a former partner with Deloitte, a multinational auditing and consultancy firm, was appointed in 2015 as the first auditor general of the Vatican with a staff of 12 people. Employed as part of the Pope's financial reforms, he was summarily dismissed after a raid by Vatican police on his office in June of last year. 

The principal responsibility of the auditor general is to oversee the auditing of procedures, internal controls and laws on the part of dicasteries and other Holy See institutions, including the Governorate of the Vatican City State. Among other duties, he is required to submit annual audit reports and perform specific reviews and audits at the request of the Council for the Economy or the Secretariat for the Economy.

Since his dismissal, Milone has maintained his innocence, telling reporters last September that “a small group of powers” were trying to defame his reputation. 

“I was threatened with arrest,” he said in September. “The head of the Gendarmerie (Vatican police) intimidated me to force me to sign a resignation letter that they had already prepared weeks in advance.”  

Milone said in September that he “wanted to do good for the Church, to contribute to the reform process, as I was asked, but they wouldn’t let me.” He added that, although Pope Francis began his financial reforms with the best of intentions, “he was blocked by the old guard that is still very much present there.” 

He said those resisting reform felt “threatened when they understood that I could tell the Pope and [Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro] Parolin what I had seen with my own eyes in their departments and in their accounts.”

Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciù, then the Vatican’s undersecretary of state and now the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, initially said in September 2017 that Milone’s claims were “false and unjustified.”

“He went against all the rules and was spying on the private lives of his superiors and staff, including me,” then-Archbishop Becciù told Reuters. “If he had not agreed to resign, we would have prosecuted him.”

Speaking to the Register July 3, a senior member of the Vatican police said Milone was dismissed for the reasons Cardinal Becciù gave at the time. “He did not have the permission to pursue the investigations he was carrying out, and, more importantly, he did not have the competence,” the source said. 

But another source with detailed knowledge of the matter told the Register July 5 that Milone “had apparently stumbled upon certain and clear abuses of funds, and they could no longer wait to remove him.” 

The source added, “From the beginning of his mandate, the auditor general was marginalized and his work impeded: The old guard wouldn’t give contracts to his staff, they strove to wear down his staff’s nerves, and deprived him of access to the Pope.”

During the early months of his tenure, Milone was forced to file a complaint with the Vatican Gendarmerie after he discovered his computer had been physically violated and hacked. The disclosure of that story gave way to the scandal known as “Vatileaks II.”

The Register source said they would have let Milone continue if he hadn’t persisted with his “professional approach,” but together with Cardinal George Pell, the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, he was becoming “increasingly effective” and “came too close to uncovering dangerous things.”

“In the end, action had to be taken to stop him,” he said.   

The question now is what steps the Vatican will take to remedy the situation. Since his dismissal last year, sources say Milone has had his reputation badly and unjustly tarnished, leaving him unable to secure any further professional appointments or engagements. 

“In the real world, a case like this would result in far more than just an apology; it would result in automatic reinstatement, the receipt of back pay, and the awarding of damages, too,” said the Register source.

The Register contacted the office of Cardinal Becciù for comment, but his secretary said July 5 that he could not be reached, as he was on vacation. 

 

Edward Pentin is the Register's Rome correspondent.