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Swindler Uses Catholic Church To Scam Millions of Dollars

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In a case of greed on all parties, Rafael Follieri, ex boyfriend of Hollywood’s” Princess Diaries” Anne Hathaway, has been arrested, jailed with a bail of $21 million dollars. The crime? Defalcating Ron Burkle, Bill Clinton, and other major global investors, by underwriting US Catholic Bishop events, and conning gullible “dollar signs in their eyes” Vatican officials.

According to the FBI, Follieri claimed the Vatican had formally appointed him to manage its financial affairs and that he had met with the pope in person in Rome.

He is accused of keeping various ceremonial robes, including the robes of senior clergymen, in his Manhattan office, and of hiring two monsignors to accompany him during his business dealings.

Once, according to the complaint, he even asked a monsignor to change out of his robes and put on the robe of a more senior clergyman to create the false impression that Follieri had close ties to the Vatican.

The monsignors are not accused of any crimes.

Prosecutors allege that Follieri’s scheme unraveled when the principal investor sought an audit of the partnership and demanded an explanation for expenditures unrelated to administrative overhead or business expenses.

Earlier this month, the New York attorney general’s office said it was investigating a foundation operated by Follieri that vaccinates children in Third World countries.
The Follieri Foundation has not filed U.S. tax disclosure forms required from charities, according to a review of records by the AP.

Joe Feuerherd of the National Catholic Reporter wrote about Follieri’s deals with the Catholic Church in 2006. To some Catholic officials, it smelled even then.

In an e-mail response to an NCR inquiry Andrea Sodano said: “I have worked with the Follieri family for the past fifteen years as an engineering consultant. My involvement long predates The Follieri Group’s interest in the States. The Follieri Group’s long and successful track record in real estate speaks for itself.”

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The Follieri Group was one of two “benefactors” of the event, the highest level of giving noted in the event’s program. Seated at Pasquale Follieri’s table were Jean-Pierre Mazery, Grand Chancellor of the Knights of Malta, who accepted the award for Bertie; Archbishops Celestino Migliore, the Vatican’s permanent observer at the UN, and Gabriel Montalvo, then the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States; and Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

The following week, Raffaello Follieri and Andrea Sodano visited the Capitol Hill Hyatt Regency Hotel in Washington, site of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual meeting. An escalator ride up from the general assembly meeting room, the Follieri Group maintained a hospitality suite for bishops. At that meeting, by a vote of 222-2, the bishops agreed to seek Vatican approval for an amendment to church policy that would allow large dioceses (those with more than 500,000 Catholics) to sell or mortgage properties for up to $10.3 million without Rome’s prior consent. The previous $5.1 million limit, said those supporting the change, was increasingly cumbersome in the go-go real estate market affecting U.S. dioceses nationwide.

Meanwhile, the Follieri Group is among the groups that sponsor the annual conference for Catholic facility managers. The company hosts exhibits at events that attract church real estate professionals, including meetings of the National Association of Treasurers of Religious Institutions and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men.

Where is the oversight? Who is looking out for the Church’s financial pursestrings?

The Six Degrees of The Clintons?

And you know when there’s scandal with wealthy people involved, the Clintons have to be involved in some way.

For the past six years, the road to Bill Clinton has often run through Douglas Band, a 34-year-old former White House intern who has helped manage Mr. Clinton’s time, accompanied him around the world and even fielded some of his calls.

Two years ago, Mr. Band befriended a handsome and charming Italian businessman named Raffaello Follieri. The young Italian, now 29 years old, had moved to New York in 2003 to launch a business buying and redeveloping Roman Catholic Church properties. He claimed close ties with Vatican officials that would smooth the way for deals, according to business associates and material issued by his company, Follieri Group LLC. He also said he could help Mr. Clinton’s wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, with Catholic voters during her presidential campaign, people in the Clinton camp recall.

As a gatekeeper to the former president’s web of business and charitable enterprises, Mr. Band helped Mr. Follieri get into business with Mr. Clinton, according to people involved with the three men. In 2005, Yucaipa Cos., a Los Angeles investment firm where Mr. Clinton has been a partner and a senior adviser, agreed to invest up to $100 million in Mr. Follieri’s church-property venture.

Later, Mr. Band helped Mr. Follieri secure several million dollars more from Michael Cooper, a Toronto real-estate executive and supporter of Mr. Clinton’s humanitarian initiatives. Mr. Band received $400,000 from Mr. Follieri for arranging that deal. Mr. Band’s connection to Mr. Follieri was reported in Il Sole/24 Ore, an Italian newspaper.

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