Maltese companies Futura Funds Sicav and Futura Investment Management, together with Luxembourg-based Cougar Real Estate, have won a garnishment order from Malta’s civil court seeking material damages from the Vatican Bank.
According to a statement from Futura, it filed a garnishee order for the sum of €29.5m, which was upheld by the Maltese court on 13 March.
A spokesperson for the firm told Expert Investor: “As a security to repay material damages suffered by Futura fund and Futura IM, the court has granted an order to seize €29.5m of assets pertaining to the IOR in Malta.”
There is no appeal provided by the law, the spokesperson added. Only an independent appication to remove the order once the assets are seized.
“Moreover, if Futura Fund and Futura IM do not succeed in recouping assets for €29.5m in Malta, they will seek this elsewhere in Europe with a fast-track proceeding.”
Tit for tat
The conflict dates back to 2013, when Futura acquired a Hungarian property with the intention to refurbish and sell it at a profit.
Ahead of the purchase, the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR), as the bank is officially known, agreed to put €41m into the venture but only handed over €17m.
The crux of the conflict centres on the IOR claiming that it was misled by Futura about the investment; while Futura claims that a change of leadership at the bank, following the election of Pope Benedict XVI, was the trigger behind it reneging on the agreement.
Newspaper the Times of Malta reported in 2017 that the Vatican Bank was seeking €17m in damages from the investment funds; while the Futura companies and Cougar countersued, asking the courts to award them €24m.
Futura is seeking financial compensation for losses related to delays on the deal and reputation damage.