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Scandal-plagued Catholic order denies hiding tens of millions in offshore accounts

VATICAN CITY (RNS) — An embattled Catholic spiritual order accused of hiding nearly $300 million in offshore accounts denied any wrongdoing in a web based assertion, declaring that it didn’t evade taxes and complied with worldwide accounting requirements.

The Legionaries of Christ, a as soon as highly effective Catholic spiritual order that fell into shame in 2010 after sexual abuse scandals involving its founder, allegedly hid $295 million via the usage of complicated monetary mechanisms comparable to trusts and offshore accounts, in response to a not too long ago printed probe by the Worldwide Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The revelations coincide with Pope Francis’ overhaul of the Vatican monetary system, which has additionally been embroiled in monetary scandals involving tax evasion, money-laundering and offshore accounts.  

On Oct. 3 the consortium launched an enormous quantity of leaked knowledge and paperwork referred to as the “Pandora Papers,” shedding mild on intricate maneuvers by rich and influential people and organizations to keep away from paying taxes via offshore accounts in tax havens.

Among the many listing of A-listers is the Legionaries of Christ, which allegedly hid tens of millions via three trusts in New Zealand. The Retirement and Medical Charitable Belief was created in 2010, just a few days earlier than then-Pope Benedict XVI introduced that the Vatican would take over the order’s administration.

The opposite two trusts, the AlfaOmega Belief and the Salus Belief, had been reportedly created in late 2011 to handle its investments simply because the Legionaries confronted large settlements from alleged sexual abuse victims.

“The 2 trusts that the media stories declare have this cash weren’t created by the Legionaries of Christ,” learn the statement issued by the Legionaries on Thursday (Oct. 7), including that the Pandora Papers “falsely attributed them to the Congregation.”

The assertion confirms that the Legion did obtain donations and loans from the trusts, which the assertion stated had been created by a priest within the order and his family.

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The Legionaries of Christ was based in 1941 by the Mexican priest Marcial Maciel Degollado, who was later accused of sexually abusing minors and younger males and of fathering a number of kids whereas he led the spiritual order. Maciel died in 2008, and two years later the Vatican took management of the Legion after a wave of revelations regarding its administration of abuse allegations and its funds.

The Rev. Luis Garza Medina, a Mexican priest who took over a few of the administration of the order after Maciel’s demise, oversaw two of the order’s funds in New Zealand, in response to the ICIJ report.

A 2014 assessment of the Legion’s funds discovered no irregularities, however a trove of paperwork printed by ICIJ in 2017, the “Paradise Papers,” revealed an intricate net of offshore accounts linked to the order. After the stories, the Legion introduced that it now not held offshore entities.

“That assertion was true then and it’s true right this moment,” the order stated in its assertion this week, including that New Zealand will not be thought-about a tax haven by the European Parliament and that the Retirement and Medical Charitable Belief exists for the only function of receiving and distributing donations.

Based on the report, a portion of the funds within the three trusts was used to spend money on actual property in the US. The report, printed with the assistance of 150 media companions all around the world, confirmed that $14 million of the trusts’ funds had been invested in residence complexes that financially squeezed and evicted tenants through the top of the pandemic.

Talking to attendees of the 75th Normal Meeting on the United Nations in September 2020, the pope referred to as for “a brand new ethics” the place nations “work collectively to shut tax shelters, keep away from evasions and cash laundering that rob society,” and to “converse to nations concerning the significance of defending justice and the widespread good over the pursuits of probably the most highly effective firms and multinationals.”

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