As part of his reform of the financial sector, Francis in 2014 reconfigured the board of the Vatican bank, hiring a fund manager, Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, to be its new president.
In December of that year, after an audit by external financial consultants, the bank flagged a series of suspicious real estate transactions to Vatican prosecutors, leading to the case that culminated Thursday. A third person, a senior manager at the Vatican bank, had also been placed under investigation but died in 2015.
The bank said in 2018 that it had lost more than €50 million as a result of the “disposal of a considerable part of the Institute’s real estate assets.”
Thursday’s case involved the sale of 29 buildings, mostly in Milan and Rome. Prosecutors said the defendants had sold the buildings at a price much lower than the market value, receiving the difference in cash, which the prosecutors estimated at €59 million, and appraisers later estimated at €34 million.
Prosecutors argued that part of the money had been recycled in Switzerland with the assistance of Mr. Liuzzo’s son, Lamberto, who was sentenced Thursday to five years and two months in prison and fined €8,000 for money laundering.
In its ruling Thursday, the court acquitted the defendants on charges involving the sale of some buildings. The trial, which began in May 2018, was briefly suspended last year because of coronavirus restrictions.
In 2014, Reuters reported that Vatican prosecutors had frozen €16 million in accounts owned by the defendants at the Vatican bank. Other funds were later frozen in Mr. Liuzzo’s Swiss bank accounts. The court on Thursday ordered that the funds at the Vatican bank be seized.