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How the Vatican built a secret property empire using Mussolini's millions

Papacy used offshore tax havens to create £500m international portfolio, featuring real estate in UK, France and Switzerland

David Leigh, Jean François Tanda and Jessica Benhamou
The Guardian, Monday 21 January 2013 15.23 EST

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How the Vatican built a secret property empire using Mussolini's millions

Papacy used offshore tax havens to create £500m international portfolio, featuring real estate in UK, France and Switzerland

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David Leigh, Jean François Tanda and Jessica Benhamou
The Guardian, Monday 21 January 2013 15.23 EST

Pope Benedict XVI
Behind Pope Benedict XVI is a porfolio of property that includes commercial premises on London's New Bond Street. Photograph: Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis

Few passing London tourists would ever guess that the premises of Bulgari, the upmarket jewellers in New Bond Street, had anything to do with the pope. Nor indeed the nearby headquarters of the wealthy investment bank Altium Capital, on the corner of St James's Square and Pall Mall.

But these office blocks in one of London's most expensive districts are part of a surprising secret commercial property empire owned by the Vatican.

Behind a disguised offshore company structure, the church's international portfolio has been built up over the years, using cash originally handed over by Mussolini in return for papal recognition of the Italian fascist regime in 1929.

read more http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/21/vatican-secret-p...



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