Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu on Friday said his surprise resignation was forced by Pope Francis, who accused him of using Vatican money to help his siblings.
The 72-year-old gave up the top position in the Vatican’s sainthood cases department on Thursday.
He also gave up cardinal privileges, including the right to take part in papal elections.
“The Holy Father explained to me that I supposedly favoured my brothers and their activities with money from the Secretariat of State, but I can explain,” Becciu told Domani, an Italian newspaper.
Becciu resigned ahead of the Sunday publication of a damning report by l’Espresso, a weekly.
Its front page, released in advance, reads: “Driving out the Merchants from the Temple.”
According to Domani and other papers, including La Repubblica (which is linked to l’Espresso), Becciu gave no less than 600,000 Euros (700,000 dollars) to a food charity cooperative run by his brother in his native Sardinia.
“I can confirm, it’s all accounted for. What’s wrong with that?” Becciu asked, indicating that the money was paid to the local branch of Catholic charity Caritas.
The cardinal also allegedly secured contracts worth “hundreds of thousands of Euros” for a company run by another of his brothers, who supplies doors and windows.
The company worked for the Vatican embassy in Egypt and also for the one in Cuba when Becciu was ambassador there.
The cardinal confirmed it to Domani.
“I have not stolen a single euro. I don’t know if I am under investigation, but I they are going to send me to trial I will defend myself,” he said.