He also accused cardinals, whom he declined to name now but said he would if his case went to trial, of pocketing tens of thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of the church’s dollars. He said he found that one cardinal received 250,000 euros in donations that he kept in a plastic shopping bag in his office. The prelate deposited an additional 250,000 euros, he claimed by accident, into his own personal account rather than into the account of the Vatican department that he ran. Mr. Milone informed Francis, who was furious, and instructed him to tell the cardinal that he had been caught, he said.
“This person became red. ‘But in my country I can do what I like,’” Mr. Milone recounted him saying. Mr. Milone said the cardinal returned the money.
In Mr. Milone’s telling, the main villain of the Vatican was Cardinal Becciu, who acted as the pope’s chief of staff and who fought a war over transparency in the Vatican with the Vatican’s former financial czar, Cardinal George Pell of Australia, an ally of Mr. Milone. Cardinal Pell, whose supporters say he was tarred with a sex abuse accusation as part of the internal political war, pushed for the hiring of PricewaterhouseCoopers as Vatican auditors.
“They are asking lots of questions and asking information,” Mr. Milone said Cardinal Becciu complained to him in one meeting. “You know, there should be a state secret on the things we do.”
Fabio Viglione, Cardinal Becciu’s lawyer, categorically denied Mr. Milone’s accusations, saying the auditor’s reconstruction of events was “completely unfounded” and likely to prompt a suit by the cardinal. Mr. Viglione pointed out that Cardinal Becciu had already testified in court that he was simply following the pope’s orders.
Another antagonist for Mr. Milone was the commander of the Gendarmerie, Domenico Giani, who also was the pope’s bodyguard and subsequently resigned over leaks related to an investigation into apparent financial wrongdoing in the Vatican. Mr. Milone said his office discovered that a refurbishing of Mr. Giani’s apartment ran to about 400,000 euros. The complaint claims that Mr. Giani’s portion of the expenses, about 170,000 euros, was provided by a money transfer from the Gendarmerie, not by him.