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Bertone’s apartment: The mystery surrounding the invoices

Vatican Insider - published on 06/30/16

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Was the renovation work on Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s apartment paid for twice or were the payments made for two different renovation projects, the first being the work on the actual apartment and the second, construction work on the common areas of the building? This is the question the Vatican judiciary must answer. Judges have investigated the former president of the Bambin Gesù hospital, Giuseppe Profitti and the former treasurer, Massimo Spina. The bulk of the work (for a total of 422,000 Euros) was paid by the Bambin Gesù paediatric hospital foundation. There is evidence documenting how the renovations to the apartment were paid for, with seven invoices issued. However, there are other invoices totalling 330,000 Euros, which Gianantonio Bandera’s Castelli Re company presented to the Vatican Governorate, which turned to Cardinal Bertone asking him to pay out of his own pocket. The cardinal did so. Italian daily La Stampa was able to see some of the invoices which Castelli Re sent to the Vatican requesting payment.

The payments made by the foundation

The Roman company presented its project after it was scrutinised by the Governorate’s technical team. Most of the work involved the merging of two apartments on the third floor of the San Carlo palace into one. This 296 square metre space was to be Bertone’s new residence: construction and reinforcement work, floor reconstruction, electrical and plumbing work, heating, frames and internal furnishings. This work was monitored step by step and all costs were covered by the Bambin Gesù paediatric hospital foundation, with seven invoices issued and paid between3 December 2013 and 28 May 2014, for a total of 422,005 Euros. The original price quoted increased by 112,005 Euros.

The invoices sent to the Governorate
However, the other invoices that Castelli Re sent directly to the Governorate, come as news. The company issued four invoices between June and October 2014 “so all of them were issued after the ones paid by the Bambin Gesù foundation): the first dated 3 June 2014 was for the amount of 91,324 Euros; the second and third were for the sum of 122,481 Euros and the fourth, dated 10 October, was for the sum of 135,035 Euros. In the summary document of the Department of Technical Services for the Governorate of Vatican City State (order no. 504629), the cost breakdown is as such: the Castelli Re company sent an invoice for 307,676 Euros, plus another 29,372 Euros for additional work carried out, for a total of 337,048 Euros. The cost of labour and materials provided by the Vatican City State amounted to 27,812 Euros, while that of third party companies (neither Vatican nor Castelli Re) amounted to 5,684 Euros. All in all, that chunk of work came to 370,544 Euros. The document produced by the Department of Technical Services for the Governorate of Vatican City State mentions Cardinal Bertone’s pledge – in a letter dated 9 November 2013 – to contribute 307,676 Euros, that is, the exact sum which the Governorate was quoted by Castelli Re.

A grand total of 792,000 Euros
In sum, the costs incurred by the Bambin Gesù foundation added to those incurred by Cardinal Bertone and the labour costs of the Governorate total 792,544 Euros. Did this money go exclusively towards merging the two apartments and renovating them? O, because it is common knowledge that besides the work carried out on Bertone’s third floor apartment, Castelli Re also carried out work on common spaces, starting with roof of San Carlo Palace. Indeed, the cardinal’s residence is not a penthouse. The spacious terrace is accessible to all the building’s residents. It needed to be waterproofed so as to prevent water from seeping through the roof. Castelli Re also did work on the basements, another public space.

Different subject lines

Interestingly, while the subject line in the invoices sent to the Bambin Gesù paediatric hospital foundation read: “Local renovation work carried out on third floor of San Carlo Palace”, including a record of every stage of the work and a breakdown of all building and installation work done on the apartment, the invoices Castelli Re sent to the Governorate carry the subject line: “Building and other related work for the renovation of the Secretary of State Emeritus’ apartment located on the 3rd floor of the San Carlo Palace”. Here there is simply mention of “building work”. Were these the costs of the work done on the common spaces of the building?

The Vatican judiciary’s assumption
But there is one more difference. While the invoices issued by Castelli Re do not mention installations (electrical etc.), the relevant certificates for payment of the Department of Technical Services for the Governorate of Vatican City State carry a different subject line: “Building and installation work carried out on third floor apartments” of the San Carlo Palace. So in its payment orders, the Government seems to have paid for the entire renovation work carried out on Bertone’s apartment, not just for the work done on common spaces. But the sum paid for the internal renovation work, when the Governorate transfers money to Castelli Re, had already been paid by the Bambin Gesù paediatric hospital foundation which had commissioned the project to the company and had approved the terms of the contract after Cardinal Bertone had read through it. Hence the Vatican judiciary’s assumption that the work was paid for twice. If the company was working on two projects, one of them being Bertone’s house and the other the work done on the roof and the basements of San Carlo Palace – and the invoices sent to the Vatican mention the latter – why did the Governorate ask the cardinal to pay for the building work done on the common spaces of the building? And why was Bertone required to reimburse the Governorate and not the Bambin Gesù foundation which had forked out 422,000 Euros for the building and installation work carried out on his apartment? 

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