Vatican says it’s a ‘credible’ partner in war against money laundering

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 7:49 EDT
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Pope Francis frees a white dove in front of pilgrims following his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican on May 15, 2013. (AFP)
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The Vatican on Wednesday said it was a “credible partner” in the struggle against money laundering as it published its first-ever report on efforts to meet international rules on suspect financing.

The Vatican “is already a credible partner,” said Rene Bruelhart, director of the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA), who was appointed last year to help reform efforts.

The FIA document said there had been six reports of suspicious financial activity in the Vatican last year and three requests of information from foreign authorities but did not provide details.

The report also showed there were 598 declarations of cross-border transfers of more than 10,000 euros ($13,000) into the Vatican and 1,782 outgoing ones in 2012.

“The statistics and trends from 2012 are encouraging and indicate that the system is consistently improving,” Bruelhart said.

Bruelhart, a Swiss lawyer, previously helped Liechtenstein shed its shady reputation.

The Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering body Moneyval last year criticised the lack of independence of the FIA but hailed progress made by the Vatican in implementing legislation against laundering and terrorist financing.

The Moneyval report said the Vatican had scored unsatisfactory ratings in seven out of 16 “key recommendations” and satisfactory ratings in nine.

The Vatican bank, officially known as the Institute of Religious Works, has a troubled history including in the 1970s and 1980s with the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, in which the Holy See was the main shareholder and which was accused of laundering money for the Sicilian mafia.

The chairman of Banco Ambrosiano, Roberto Calvi — dubbed “God’s Banker” in the press — was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982 in a suspected murder by mobsters for which no one has ever been convicted.

More recent investigations in Italy point to suspicions that the IRW, which handles the accounts of congregations and Vatican departments, is being used by organised crime.

The Vatican, the world’s smallest states, hopes its efforts will get it on to the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development’s white list of financially virtuous countries.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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