A £ 30,000-a-week luxury apartment in central London owned by the Vatican has become the subject of complaints from local residents over what they claim to be ‘hellish noise’ from late-night gatherings .
Some residents of Hans Place in Chelsea, one of London’s most expensive addresses, have complained to the local council and even the Holy See’s Ambassador to the UK about loud events, some involving DJs, which took place on Vatican property.
The purchase of the apartment and several other luxury properties in London in 2014 was overseen by Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who this month became the first modern-day cardinal to be charged with financial crimes by the Vatican .
The properties are owned through shell companies in Jersey by the Holy See unit in charge of so-called Peters Pence charitable donations to the poor and needy. The investments Becciu oversaw using this money have come under increasing international scrutiny following allegations against him and several other Vatican officials.
The currently unoccupied 9,000 square foot triplex apartment on Hans Place features a large garden and indoor swimming pool installed as part of a multi-million pound refurbishment. It is currently advertised for rent for £ 30,000 per week on behalf of the company which manages it for the Holy See.
The company managing the property, which has had several tenants over the past year, said it had not been let on short-term leases and that it was normal in the London property market for rent is indicated at a weekly rate.
A resident living nearby, who asked to remain anonymous, said neighbors filed various complaints, including with the council, after some people on the property held loud parties and social gatherings there, including one that continued early in the morning. This can.
In correspondence seen by the Financial Times between residents and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea who complained of “hellish noise”, a councilor said the Borough’s “noise and nuisance” team recently wrote to a company incorporated in Jersey through which the Vatican owns the property.
The council has reviewed the complaints, according to correspondence viewed by the FT last month. “With the restrictions lifted, let’s hope people can party in nightclubs and not in apartments,” the adviser wrote in an email sent to residents this month.
A local resident said he had become so frustrated that he complained to the Vatican ambassador to the UK. “I wrote to the Apostolic Nuncio (the Vatican ambassador) but they didn’t do anything about it”.
The office of the Vatican ambassador to the UK responded to the complaint in an email hoping that “action with the local authority” and others would help resolve the immediate issue.
None of the plaintiffs suggested that Vatican employees were present at one of the nightly gatherings held in the apartment.
The Vatican’s indictment of Becciu and nine others in the first week of July marked a dramatic acceleration in Pope Francis’ drive to reform the finances of the Holy See.
Becciu, who was once one of the most powerful clerics in the Vatican, denies any wrongdoing. He defended the investments in prime London properties made by the Holy See unit he oversaw, claiming they were a normal and responsible use of Vatican assets.
Becciu had no role in overseeing the rental or management of any London property owned by the Vatican.
The company that manages Vatican property has not been charged with any wrongdoing. His spokesperson said he had been made aware of the concerns of a few neighbors about noise, lights and disturbance, which he had properly investigated, and that he did not expect “any recurrence of problems” .