More Reforms for Scandal-plagued Vatican Bank

Pope Francis has approved a new direction for the scandal-ridden Vatican bank as it seeks to improve transparency and compliance with international guidelines, the Vatican said on April 7.

The bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, was founded in 1942 to manage funds for Roman Catholic institutions, Vatican employees and clergy but has been plagued by allegations of money laundering and Mafia links for decades.

Advertisement

The pope’s statement ended months of speculation about the troubled bank’s future and endorsed a proposal developed by Cardinal George Pell, head of the Vatican’s new Secretariat for the Economy.

“The IOR will continue to serve with prudence and provide specialized financial services to the Catholic Church worldwide,” the Vatican said in a statement released on behalf of the pope on April 7.

Ernst von Freyberg, president of the IOR, will work with bank management to finalize changes that fulfill the Vatican’s new financial structures, the statement said.

The pope identified the bank as a key target of reforms after his election last year and had not ruled out its closure if it was unable to conform to international standards of transparency and accountability.

Last year the bank published details of its accounts for the first time and a team of experts from the Promontory Financial Group, a regulatory compliance consulting firm, began screening the 19,000 accounts held by the bank looking for signs of money laundering and other crimes.

The Vatican bank has struggled to clean up its image since Roberto Calvi, dubbed “God’s banker” because of his dealings with it, was found hanging beneath Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982 in a suspected Mafia killing.

More recently the bank’s former president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was sacked in 2012 after Italian prosecutors seized 23 million euros ($29 million) from a Rome bank account registered to the IOR amid suspicions of money laundering.

Now Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a former Vatican accountant with close links to the IOR, is facing trial on charges of money laundering and allegedly plotting to smuggle millions of dollars from Switzerland into Italy in a tax-dodging scheme.

Paolo Cipriani and Massimo Tulli, the former director and deputy director at IOR, who resigned in July after Scarano’s arrest, have also been ordered to stand trial on charges of violating anti-money laundering norms.

The pope’s approval “represents for us a strong accreditation, a great recognition of the importance of our mission and service work done in the last 12 months,” said IOR spokesman Max Hohenberg, in a statement.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
geoffrey o'connell
4 years 5 months ago
I always argued the church should have be in Dublin !! Also this is why I don't give to Peter's Pence and the Bishop's appeal, while I pay for Catholic school busing.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Join America Media for a discussion with Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, with Matt Malone, S.J., editor in chief of America magazine, on the foundations of the papacy of pope Francis.
America FilmsSeptember 19, 2018
Brett and Bridget Hutchinson of St. Thomas More in St. Paul, Minn., pray with other young adults gathered on the steps of the Cathedral of St. Paul Aug. 20 during a vigil called "Evening Prayer for the Survivors of Clerical Abuse and the Healing of the Church." (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit) 
“I’m unhappy about what’s being done here,” Elizabeth Bruenig said at a conversation at Georgetown University. “The one thing I can do is throw a fit.”
Teresa DonnellanSeptember 19, 2018
A Vatican source confirmed that a high-level Holy See delegation will travel to the Chinese capital for the signing and that a date has already been fixed for this ground-breaking event.
Gerard O’ConnellSeptember 18, 2018
Swiss Guards salute as Cardinals Timothy M. Dolan of New York and Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston leave a meeting of cardinals with Pope Francis in the synod hall at the Vatican Feb. 21, 2014. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 
“The church has lost credibility in investigating itself.”
Jim McDermottSeptember 18, 2018