Catholic or­der ad­mits past off­shore hold­ings in tax havens

Dayton Daily News - - NATION & WORLD - By Ni­cole Win­field

VATICAN CITY — The scan­dal-marred Le­gion of Christ Ro­man Catholic reli­gious or­der ad­mit­ted Tues­day it had off­shore com­pa­nies in Caribbean tax havens in the past, but said they had been closed and that none was used for il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties.

In a state­ment, the Le­gion sought to blame its off­shore cor­po­rate strat­egy on its dis­graced founder, the Rev. Mar­cial Ma­ciel. The Mex­i­can-born Ma­ciel, who died in 2008, sex­u­ally abused his sem­i­nar­i­ans and fa­thered three chil­dren, all while cul­ti­vat­ing a cult of per­son­al­ity around him­self that ex­tended to the high­est ech­e­lons of the Vatican.

The Le­gion’s multi-mil­lion dol­lar off­shore hold­ings, long the source of spec­u­la­tion given the or­der’s stud­ied cul­ti­va­tion of wealthy donors and fast ex­pan­sion, were re­vealed in the so-called Par­adise Pa­pers leak.

Re­ports by a con­sor­tium of in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ists have de­tailed how lawyers and priests still cur­rently ac­tive with the Le­gion helped man­age the fi­nan­cial em­pire be­yond Ma­ciel.

Spain’s El Con­fi­den­cial re­ported that the Le­gion in 1994 cre­ated a cor­po­ra­tion in Ber­muda, IVS or In­ter­na­tional Vol­un­teer Ser­vices, to re­ceive the mil­lions that the Le­gion made from its schools and uni­ver­si­ties. The Le­gion de­nied El Con­fi­den­cial’s es­ti­ma­tion that $300 mil­lion passed through IVS an­nu­ally.

The re­port said the fund was se­cretly liq­ui­dated in 2006, just be­fore the Vatican sanc­tioned Ma­ciel to live a life of pe­nance and prayer for rap­ing and mo­lest­ing his sem­i­nar­i­ans.

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