After the sex scandals, the financial scandals. As part of the “Pandora Papers”, this massive leak of financial documents analyzed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and unveiled on Sunday October 3, the Legionaries of Christ are suspected of having set up a financial system to set aside no less than 295 million dollars (more than 250 million euros).
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The facts begin in the summer of 2010, when the Vatican is preparing to conduct a major overhaul of the Legion of Christ, entangled in the scandals surrounding its founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, who died two years earlier. The Holy See then warns the Legion of Christ that Cardinal De Paolis will be charged by the Pope to lead this task. On July 6, three days before the official announcement of Cardinal De Paolis’ mission, the Legion opened a trust (legal entity responsible for managing financial assets for the benefit of a third party) – called the Retirement and Medical Charitable Trust (RMCT ) – in New Zealand. If this country is not considered a tax haven as such, it is nevertheless known for its very favorable taxation.
The family trusts of the ex-number 2 of the Legion
According to the Spanish daily El País and other media, two other trusts were then created in November 2011: Salus and AlfaOmega. Behind these openings is for the first Father Luis Garza Medina, Vicar General of the Legion from 1992 to 2011, two of his brothers for the second. Six years after their creation, these funds had respectively 147 and 148 million dollars of assets, arrived at the end of a sinuous banking road.
Although officially unrelated to the Legion of Christ as such, the profits – which run into millions of euros – generated by the investments of Salus and AlfaOmega were donated to RMCT. In a note dated Sunday, October 4, the congregation defends itself by asserting that these two trusts are “Independent”. “It is therefore important to distinguish between the trust of the congregation and these two trusts which were not created and are not controlled by it”, insists the note. The Legion barely admits that it has sometimes requested donations or loans from Salus and AlfaOmega.
This line of defense was, however, undermined by the ICIJ. According to his investigations, RMCT, Salus and AlfaOmega all have the same addresses, are administered by the same people and have accounts at the same Swiss banks. In all three trusts, functions would be managed by prominent members of the Legion of Christ. More so, a leaked 2016 memo from a New Zealand tax lawyer shows that Salus and AlfaOmega “Mainly lead” towards the trust of the legionaries.
The legion ensures its respect for the rules
Officially, the funds of Salus and AlfaOmega come from the family business of Father Luis Garza Medina. Via intermediary companies, investments have been made in areas as diverse as real estate in London and Florida, franchises of the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) fast food chain, but also oil exploration and new developments. technologies.
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In 2017, a spokesperson for the Legion of Christ claimed that it “Did not own offshore companies and did not have offshore company resources”. He also assured that if such companies could have existed, they went back to the time of Father Maciel – so before his death in 2008 – and had since been liquidated. In its note of October 4, the Legion states “That it administers its resources in accordance with all applicable laws, both civil and canonical, in all countries where it is present”.