Vatican to hold trial of officials accused of using children’s hospital funds for cardinal’s luxury flat: How much money is stolen every year by the church? What % of the total revenues?

14 Jul

The TelegraphJuly 13, 2017
Funds were allegedly taken from a Vatican-owned children's hospital to pay for the restoration of an apartment for Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. - AP

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Funds were allegedly taken from a Vatican-owned children’s hospital to pay for the restoration of an apartment for Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. – AP

The Vatican is to put on trial two former officials who are accused of siphoning off nearly £400,000 from a Vatican-owned children’s hospital and using it to renovate a luxurious apartment for a powerful cardinal.

Giuseppe Profiti and Massimo Spina will face their first hearing in front of a Vatican tribunal next Tuesday, it was announced.

Mr Profiti, the former president of the Bambino Gesu (Baby Jesus) Hospital in Rome, and Mr Spina, its former treasurer, are accused of diverting 422,000 euros (£372,000) of hospital funds towards the renovation of the property for Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Cardinal Bertone was Secretary of State – effectively the Vatican’s prime minister – during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI.

Cardinal Bertone served under Pope Benedict XVI but fell out of favour when Pope Francis was elected in 2013. - Credit: Reuters

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Cardinal Bertone served under Pope Benedict XVI but fell out of favour when Pope Francis was elected in 2013. Credit: Reuters

He fell from favour under Benedict’s successor, Pope Francis, and was removed from office just eight months after Francis was elected in 2013.

During his seven years in office he was blamed for many of the gaffes and controversies of Benedict’s papacy.

In its statement, the Vatican accused the two men of having “used, in an illegal manner, money belonging to the Bambino Gesu Foundation, money to which they both had access due to their roles in the institution.”

The money was illicitly taken from the hospital’s coffers between November 2013 and March 2014, and used for “completely extra-institutional purposes” in restructuring the cardinal’s apartment, the Holy See said.

The pair will be tried in a Vatican tribunal consisting of three judges.

Cardinal Bertone has denied any wrongdoing and is not on trial.  - Credit: AP

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Cardinal Bertone has denied any wrongdoing and is not on trial.  Credit: AP

Mr Profiti has admitted that hospital money was used, but said the apartment was to be used for official fundraising events.

In a letter he wrote in 2013 to the cardinal, he suggested hosting gatherings and meetings in “what is to be Your Eminence’s residence”.

The flat is Vatican property but was assigned to Cardinal Bertone after he retired as Secretary of State in 2013.

He has acknowledged that it is large but said he shared it with three nuns as well as a secretary.  The property includes a library, several bedrooms and a broad terrace.

After the allegations concerning the payments came to light Cardinal Bertone made a donation of €150,000 euros to the hospital foundation out of his own pocket in 2015.  Bertone has always denied any knowledge of the payments and was not charged.


3 Responses to “Vatican to hold trial of officials accused of using children’s hospital funds for cardinal’s luxury flat: How much money is stolen every year by the church? What % of the total revenues?”

  1. Vale July 15, 2017 at 12:03 am #

    10 Practices that Safeguard Against Church Embezzlement

    I was saddened to read about a neighborhood church, where my kids used to attend youth events, being yet another victim of church embezzlement.

    All you have to do is go to your search bar and type in ‘church embezzlement’ and you will find many headlines:

    Woman pleads guilty to embezzling $300 from Church;
    Manlius church treasurer’s husband arraigned on embezzlement charges;
    Treasurer convicted and sentenced for embezzling over $110,000 from church bank accounts in California;
    Church bookkeeper gets 3 years for embezzlement;
    Largest South Korean church’s embezzlement scandal just got worse;
    And the list goes on and on. According to Brotherhood Mutual,

    “Church crime continues to grow – estimated at $100 million each day. Increasing at an annual rate of nearly six percent, researchers expect church financial fraud to reach the $60 billion mark by 2025.”

    With about 80 percent of all cases of church fraud being unreported, this is staggering!

    So what the heck is going on? Are churches really this mis-managed?

    The concept of a trusted bookkeeper, treasurer or money counter stealing from the church is simply counter intuitive for those of us who embrace Christian principles.

    We are the church. We trust people, we love people and we give people the benefit-of-the-doubt. That’s what we do.

    The reality check, for those in church leadership, is the realization that easy access, no controls and personal need (or justification) are all stepping stones to church fraud.

    We all want to believe that the sweet lady who diligently keeps the books would never steal, but the reality is if the conditions are right, embezzlement is inevitable and once it begins it becomes a slippery slope.

    It starts small, maybe one of the counters slips a ten dollar bill into his pocket, no one finds out and then it becomes a little easier to muster up the nerve to do it again. No one finds out so they try again.

    These examples are merely holes in the armor and demonstrate a lack of management and control.

    10 Practices that Safeguard Against Church Embezzlement

    1. Policy and Procedures

    The first step in any effort of control is to write policies and procedures. Spend some time thinking through how your organization would like to control the handling of, and access to, church funds.

    There should be clearly stated policies for things like cash handling, two-person accountability, rotation of counters and a commitment to auditing – just to name a few. The more eyes on the books, the more likely it will be for someone to notice irregularities.

    2. Training

    The concept of a trusted bookkeeper, treasurer or money counter stealing from the church is simply counter intuitive for those of us who embrace Christian principles.Employees and volunteers who help with counting the offering, or assisting in the church office, should be trained at least annually on the policies and procedures that relate to church funds.

    Included in this training should be the measures that the ministry takes to safeguard its financial resources. This simple step will make would be perpetrators think twice because they will see that the organization is diligent in its efforts to protect its resources.

    3. Audits

    Church audits are expensive, there is no question, but it is critical that the church takes the steps to conduct thorough church audits on a regular basis.

    These audits should be done by an independent outside auditor. This is another step that alerts someone that the books will be reviewed and that misappropriation of funds will be discovered.

    4. Rotation

    Volunteers and employees who help with counting the offering should be rotated on a regular basis. No one should stay in the role indefinitely and the use of multiple, unrelated people will make it more difficult to skim dollars from the offering.

    5. Safes

    Cash and checks should be kept securely in a locked safe until it is delivered to the bank. Get a safe with a drop slot so that it doesn’t require someone to open it to make a deposit into it.

    Have a policy that the safe is only opened by two people and the combination is limited to a few people who do not have a key to the room the safe is kept. These simple security measures will help to control your risk.

    6. Two-Person Rule

    The cash handling policy should have a strict two person rule, stating that there will always be a minimum of two people when cash is handled, counted or transported. The two people should not be related and should not have personal financial issues.

    7. Background/Credit Checks

    In today’s society it is only wisdom to perform a background check on all church employees and volunteers. In addition, people who have access to church funds should also be subjected to a credit check.

    While this practice may seem a little invasive, this simple step can provide information that can ultimately protect the church. As with all sensitive information, strict confidentiality practices should be used.

    8. Watch for Warning Signs

    There are many signs you can watch for but a few to think about are:

    Only one person has access to offering, cash, checks and check log.
    Person with access doesn’t take vacations and guards against someone else doing their job.
    Person with access is living beyond their means.
    Person with access has personal financial issues.
    It is difficult to get financial summary from responsible person.
    There is inadequate supervision of person(s) handling cash.
    9. Act on Suspicion

    If you have a gut feeling, take the time to investigate and act on your instincts. Solicit help from a trained fraud examiner to help you sort through your suspicions.

    10. Supervision/Management

    Church leaders are responsible for managing operational practices within the church. Whether that oversight is of employees or volunteers, it is critical to have good supervision of those who deal with church funds. Our natural leadership tendency is to empower people with the freedom to work independently, but when it comes to church finances, that leadership principle should be thrown out the window.

    Enforce the practice of keeping church financial records in the church office. Make your presence known, ask questions and insist on timely financial reporting. Management and supervision is a crucial aspect of financial controls.

    Churches could not exist without the generous support of its members. Those who embrace the Christian principle of giving, trust that church leadership will be good stewards of their money. These countless cases of church fraud and embezzlement speak to the critical need for church boards and leadership to wake up, do their job and safeguard God’s money. I challenge you today to call a meeting and discuss this critical issue with your leadership team.

    What practices does your church use to safeguard against embezzlement?

    If you want to learn more about preventing fraud, there is a great book, Preventing and Detecting Employee Theft and Embezzlement: A Practical Guide.

  2. Vale July 15, 2017 at 12:01 am #

    18 Shocking Facts About Church Embezzlement

    September 30, 2015 Sharefaith Team Church & Worship Related

    Churches would not exist without the generous donations made by tithing members. These financial supporters make sacrifices to give to their church because it is a basic Christian principle. Tithing church members give out of their hearts and pocket books but have an unspoken expectation – for church leadership to manage and safeguard those donations.

    Every time I read about fraud and embezzlement in the church I am amazed. I am amazed that a trusted church member could actually steal from their church; I’m amazed that church leadership is naive enough to have little or no financial controls; and I’m amazed at the amount of money that can be stolen without anyone even suspecting.

    “Christians” stole $39 billion in church fraud in ’14. Shocking? Check out 17 more staggering stats about church… CLICK TO TWEET

    Christians tend to be accepting, trusting and forgiving and these basic characteristics can be what would be thieves target and take advantage of.

    A church’s insurance company is a great resource that can provide tips, training and resources to help guard against church theft. This list of things that you were probably not aware of is sourced from Brotherhood Mutual and Church Mutual insurance companies and Frank Sommerville, JD, CPA.

    An unbelievable 30 percent of all workers will steal – It is difficult to believe this one, particularly in a church setting. However, if someone has a personal need (or justification), easy access and no controls they are on a slippery slope to embezzling church funds.
    The average church loss due to fraud is $120,000 – and growing every year – This number is frightening and should be a wakeup call for church leadership. What types of things could a church do with that much money?
    An estimated 80% of church fraud cases don’t get reported – Most church fraud is not reported and handled quietly behind the scenes. Part of this is due to a desire to keep the incident private, the forgiving nature of a church and quite frankly church leaders who don’t know how to respond to internal theft.
    Church thieves are creative – Thieves are creative by nature and take advantage of organizations that either have no policies and procedures or those that don’t audit or enforce written policy. Would be thieves know when access is easy and take advantage of haphazard financial oversight.
    Church leaders don’t believe that someone in their midst could steal from them – Many church leaders are naive to the fact that church employees steal and that those thefts are reaching unbelievable high dollars. They (think) they know their members and can’t wrap their head around a trusted member and employee stealing from them.
    Church theft is often from one of the most trusted people of the church – People who steal from a church don’t wear a sign on their back, they are the most trusted and loyal of church members. They are loved by all and gain access to church resources through that trust.
    In the first half of 2014, Christians stole more than $39 billion in church related financial fraud – This is a mind-blowing statistic. One that every church leader should sit up and pay attention to.
    During the same time period churches spent $35 billion on worldwide mission work – How can it be that the church is losing more to theft than it is using for mission work?
    Researchers are expecting church financial fraud to reach $60 billion by 2025 – Churches need to take steps now to slow this trend.
    Churches are targeted for fraud because of the very nature of the church and the counterintuitive nature of suspecting someone of stealing – Churches need to stop being naive and put systems and processes in place to protect the financial resources that God has supplied.
    Church thieves gain access to church funds through the nature of their position – Once an employee is trusted they are given more access to church cash, credit and assets.
    An estimated 60 percent of churches don’t have a process in place to report suspected financial crimes – Because churches are trusting by nature, many neglect the very real need to create structured process for reporting suspected theft. Create a process, write policy and communicate the process to employees, members and volunteers.
    Church thieves are only as successful as the financial controls over church resources – Financial controls are how organizations safeguard against fraud and embezzlement. Contact a CPA or church fraud expert to help you create controls to help safeguard your church’s resources.
    One third of all congregations will fall victim to fraud – If a third of all churches are victims of fraud, what is the chance that this is happening right now at your church?
    Most frauds go on for 18 months before getting caught – Eighteen months seems like a long time for something to go on. Having proper policies, procedures and financial controls in place can greatly reduce this time frame.
    The average tenure of a church thief is 8 years – One would think that the longer someone works somewhere the more they can be trusted. This is clearly not the case in church fraud.
    40% of frauds are caught through a tip – Annual audits are a great way to catch church fraud but having an open policy on reporting suspected behavior seems to also help identify thieves.
    The number one deterrent of fraud is the fear of getting caught – Create policies, procedures and controls so any would be thief will think twice about stealing God supplied church resources. Talk about the church’s commitment to safeguard resources and put potential thieves on notice that your church is watching.
    Safeguarding church resources is an important responsibility of church leadership.

    Taking the time to put in policies, procedures and controls for every church financial resource is a great first step in protecting those valuable resources. Contact your insurance company today to see how they can help!

  3. Vale July 14, 2017 at 11:56 pm #

    18 Shocking Facts About Church Embezzlement – Sharefaith …
    Sep 30, 2015 … “Christians” stole $39 billion in church fraud in ’14. … The average church loss due to fraud is $120,000 – and growing every year – This number is frightening … What types of things could a church do with that much money?

    Church Giving Tops $50 Billion A Year In U.S.—And Its Future Is…
    “The youngest generation does everything with their debit card,” says Stu … “You had churches very sensitive to preventing the notion that a church is all about money. …. “Wage theft,” the collective term for this practice, can take many forms.

    Fraud Thriving In U.S. Churches, But You Wouldn’t Know It -…
    Nov 18, 2013 … Fraud in churches is a multibillion dollar problem. … at all or reported but not directed to authorities … bad news, like “theft,” does not sit well with contributors. … Losses due to mismanagement of funds is also a line item totaling $8 billion. … “I know he stole my money but I still think he’s a wonderful person.”.

    Based on Theft Math, Joel Osteen’s Lakewood ‘Tithing’ at Least…
    Mar 18, 2014 … Last week Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, the 43000-member … CNN reports that “incredibly, all of the money was from one weekend’s donations, the church says. … be a conservative estimate of the church’s total revenue each year. … In reaction to the theft many Christians, fans, and sympathizers took …
    Quick Facts about Global Christianity
    How much money is embezzled every year in the global Christian community? …. will likely be stolen from money that Christians give to churches, para-church …
    $600,000 Stolen from Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church Offering …
    Mar 11, 2014 … … church safe, reported the Houston Chronicle, one of the first of many media … CT’s previously reporting on theft includes the rash of church metal thefts, … to trust your pastor/mortgage officer because of church-based affinity fraud. … This includes cash, checks and envelopes containing written credit card …
    Stolen Treasure in the Old North Church –
    Over its 300-year history, the Old North Church has acquired many claims to fame. … Once the French ship was in his possession, Captain Gruchy took all of the …
    $600,000 stolen from Joel Osteen’s megachurch – CNN Belief Blog…
    Mar 14, 2014 … Some $600000 in cash and check donations were stolen this week from Lakewood … Incredibly, all of the money was from one weekend’s donations, the church says. For many American churches, $600,000 in tithes would be a good month or even year. … Previous entryThe Pope’s first year, in 60 seconds …
    Church treasurer and husband accused of stealing $444,000 from…
    Oct 13, 2013 … Much of the money was from people who left it to the 150-year-old church in … ” Over those years, all decisions John made related to church …

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