Magistrates during the trial of Angelo Caloia (not in picture) on January 21.
CNN  — 

The former head of the Vatican bank, Angelo Caloia, has been sentenced to nearly nine years in prison for money laundering and aggravated embezzlement.

The 81-year-old was handed an eight year, 11 month jail term on Thursday, making him the highest-ranking Vatican official to be convicted of a financial crime. His lawyer is appealing his sentence.

Caloia was president of the bank known as Institute of Works of Religion (IOR) from 1989 to 2009. He and two lawyers who consulted for the bank were charged with embezzling money while managing the sale of Italian real estate owned by IOR between 2001-2008, allegedly declaring less than the actual amount of the sale.

The Vatican court also convicted the two lawyers. Gabriele Liuzzo, 97, received the same sentence as Caloia. Liuzzo’s son, Lamberto Liuzzo, age 55, was handed a five years, two month term.

Each man will also have to pay fines and are banned from public office in perpetuity, according to a press release from the Vatican.

All three denied wrongdoing during the trial, which started in 2018.

Former president of the IOR Vatican bank, Angelo Caloia is pictured during a court hearing on embezzlement charges at the Vatican.

The Vatican bank has long been plagued by financial scandals.

In September 2020 Giovanni Angelo Becciu, one of the Vatican’s powerful cardinals, resigned from his post amid financial scandal.

At the time Becciu said he was accused of embezzlement and proclaimed his innocence during a press conference after effectively being fired by Pope Francis.

In 2013, Pope Francis set up an expert committee to recommend reforms to the economic and administrative structures of the Holy See, to combat the problem.

This story has been updated to correct the the number of years that Caloia was president of IOR.

Valentina Di Donato reported from Rome. Zamira Rahim wrote in London.