Vatican Bank

Catholic World News

Vatican has strengthened its financial oversight, report shows

Vatican City, May 19, 2014 / 03:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Authority for Financial Information’s second annual report presents an increasing number of suspicious transactions reported – a reflection of stronger oversight of Vatican finances.

“In 2013 we have taken further decisive steps to foster the legal framework, and, at the same time, to make it work in practice,” said Rene Bruelhart, director of the AIF, at a May 19 presentation of the report at the Holy See press office.

“Today we have a proper and equivalent system in place to prevent and fight financial crime. A system that is well in line with international standards.”

The annual report is divided in three parts: the first presents the legal, institutional, and international framework in which the authority operates and its internal organization; the second deals with data; and the third demosntrates the legal changes which have strengthened its oversight of Vatican finances.

The Financial Information Authority was established by Benedict XVI in 2010 to oversee the Vatican’s monetary and commercial agencies, including the Institutes for the Works of Religion, or “Vatican bank.”

In 2013, Pope Francis issued three motu proprio extending the AIF’s authority and giving it new statutes, and aligning Vatican financial law with international standards.

“The new statutes have built the AIF on two pillars, supervision and financial intelligence, and have clarified some aspects with regard to governance,” Bruelhart commented.

The AIF recorded a notable uptake in suspicious transation reports – from 1 in 2011, to six in 2012, to 202 in 2013.

“It is a significant increase, but a suspicious transaction report is not evidence that something went wrong,” Bruelhart commented.

Rather, the uptake “means the reporting system works.”

Of the 202 reports made last year, five were forwarded to the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice to be further investigated by judicial authorities.

The report also showed that the AIF has made an increasing number of requests from foreign authorities – one in 2012, and 23 in 2013. Conversely, the Vatican received information requests from foreign authorities thrice in 2012, and 53 times in 2013.

This increasing international cooperation has been fostered by the AIF’s signing of memoranda of understading with its counterparts in the U.S., Italy, Germany, Slovenia, and the Netherlands. Bruelhart added that further such agreements would be signed in the future.

Bruelhart also underscored that the AIF became in July 2013 a member of the Egmont Group, which gathers most national finanical intelligence groups, and that “being a member of the Egmont Group is a clear signal of a strong commitment by the Holy See” to combatting money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

The AIF also conducted its first ordinary on-site inspection of the Vatican bank at the beginning of 2014, which showed “substantial progress” made throughout the last year.

The inspection also led the AIF to develop a plan of action to fully implement the Vatican’s new financial laws and to otherwise improve its oversight of Vatican finances.

Catholic World News

Pope Francis reaffirms importance of Vatican bank’s mission

Vatican City, Apr 8, 2014 / 12:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis approved a proposal Monday on the future of the Institute for Religious Works, commonly known as the “Vatican bank,” affirming its importance for the good of the Church.

“The IOR will continue to serve with prudence and provide specialized financial services to the Catholic Church worldwide,” read a statement from the Holy See press office released April 7.

“The valuable services that can be offered by the Institute assist the Holy Father in his mission as universal pastor and also aid those institutions and individuals who collaborate with him in his ministry.”

The proposal has not been detailed, but seems to deal with the insertion of the Vatican bank among the wider reform of the Holy See’s financial departments.

It was developed by the organizations charged with oversight and reform at the Vatican bank, and was presented by Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, with the permission of Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, president of the Vatican bank’s cardinal commission.

The Secretariat for the Economy, established Feb. 24, should have a prime role to play in the reformation of Vatican finances, including the Vatican bank.

“With the confirmation of the IOR’s mission and at the request of Cardinal-Prefect Pell, the President of the Board of Superintendence, Ernst von Freyberg, and the management of the IOR, will finalize their plan to ensure that the IOR can fulfil its mission as part of the new financial structures of the Holy See/Vatican City State,” the press office announced.

“The plan will be presented to the Holy Father’s Council of Cardinals and the Council for the Economy.”

It was also noted that the proposal is drawn from information on the Vatican bank’s legal status and operations, which was presented to Pope Francis and the council of eight cardinals in February.

The Authority for Financial Information will continue to regulate the Vatican bank, and Cardinal Pell “has confirmed the importance of a sustainable systematic alignment of the legal and regulatory framework of the Holy See/Vatican City State with regulatory international best practice.”

“Strict regulatory supervision and improvements in compliance, transparency and operations initiated in 2012 and substantially accelerated in 2013 are critical for the Institute’s future.”

The press officers of the Vatican bank told CNA April 7 that their priorities are “to finish the screening of customers’ accounts by the beginning of the summer; to work toward a better integration of the Institute with the bodies of the Vatican City State; and to introduce a series of improvements in IOR operations.”

The Vatican bank press officers also stressed that the Pope’s decision “represents for us a great acknowledgement of the importance of our mission at the service of the Church and of the work we have been carrying out in the last 12 months.”

Vatican financial reform was begun in 2009, when the Holy See, under Benedict XVI, signed a monetary agreement with the European Union and issued an anti-money laundering law the following year.

It underwent an evaluation by the Council of Europe’s Moneyval committee in 2011, after which it amended and improved its anti-money laundering law. In July 2012 the Vatican received a generally positive evaluation from Moneyval.

Pope Francis has established a committee for financial security, and promulgated a law Oct. 8 establishing a financial system taking into account the peculiarities of the Vatican City State.

Catholic World News

Former Vatican Bank Chief Cleared of Wrongdoing

Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, the former president of the Institute for Religious Works, or Vatican bank, has been cleared today in a money-laundering investigation and has vowed to take legal action. In its judgement, the Criminal Court of Rome ruled that Gotti Tedeschi was working to bring the Vatican’s financial inst…

Catholic World News

Mission of Vatican bank a key point in cardinal meetings

Vatican City, Feb 18, 2014 / 11:54 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi says that the council of eight cardinals spent their second day of meetings discussing the so-called “Vatican Bank,” however no decisions have yet been made.

The council was chosen by Pope Francis to advise him on matters of church governance and curia reform, and are meeting with the pontiff for the third time following an initial meeting in October, and a second in December. This week’s meetings began on Feb. 17, and will conclude on Feb. 19.

During the Feb. 18 press briefing, Fr. Lombardi revealed that after meeting with the Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See yesterday, the cardinals continued today by hearing reports from the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), commonly referred to as the Vatican Bank.

Noting that Vatican Secretary of State and soon-to-be cardinal Pietro Parolin was present and will be for the remainder of the meetings, Vatican Radio reports that the cardinals began the day as usual by celebrating Mass with the Holy Father in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse.

Following the Mass, the council of eight met at 9:30 a.m. in the same room as yesterday, where they listened to reports from representatives of the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the IOR.

This commission was initially called as the result of the Pope’s desire to learn in more detail both the legal position, and the activities of the institute in order to create a greater harmony between the latter with the mission of the universal Church and the Apostolic See.

It was also done within the wider context of reforms involving some of the institutions that offer support to the Apostolic See, Vatican Radio reports, noting that the task of the commission is to gather information on the functioning of the institute and to report the results to the Pope.

According to the news agency, the presentations provided were received “with great interest by the cardinals,” and centered on giving information on the current situation of the Institute and the problems that it must face.

One of the main areas of discussion was the mission of the IOR as it relates to the actions of the Church in the world, both within and outside of an economic perspective. Although suggestions were offered by the cardinals for future changes, no decisions were made.

Attending the session this morning was the commission’s president, Cardinal Raffaele Farina, its coordinator Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru, its secretary Msgr. Peter Bryan Wells, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who is a member.

Fr. Lombardi, states Vatican Radio, commented on the importance of understanding, given the work of the two commissions, that their aims are different, but that both fit within the “contextual reality of the Holy See.”

It is for this reason, Fr. Lombardi noted, that Pope Francis desires to have an overall view regarding the re-organization of the Vatican Bank’s governance and structures.

The council of eight cardinals will continue to meet in the afternoon, and will conduct their final day of meetings tomorrow with the council of fifteen, who are currently preparing for the upcoming Synod of Bishops dedicated to the family.

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