Key suspect in Vatican corruption case detained in London

The main suspect in the Vatican’s corruption investigation into a London real estate venture has been taken into custody in London, his lawyers say

ROME -- The main suspect in the Vatican’s corruption investigation into a London real estate venture was taken into custody Tuesday in London after he appeared for his first extradition hearing, his lawyers said.

The British judge determined businessman Gianluigi Torzi was a flight risk and ordered him detained. A statement from Torzi’s lawyers said they would argue he is not a flight risk at a new audience expected in the next 48 hours.

British authorities were acting on an arrest warrant issued last month by a Rome judge accusing Torzi of false billing, tax evasion and money laundering. Torzi has denied the allegations.

In addition, Vatican prosecutors have accused Torzi of extorting 15 million euros ($17.8 million) from the Holy See to turn over ownership of a luxury London building in which the Vatican’s secretariat of state was a majority shareholder.

Neither Torzi nor anyone else under investigation has been indicted in the 2-year-old Vatican probe.