Vatican financial watchdog finds ‘suspicious transactions’

The new Vatican financial watchdog set up to prevent money-laundering says it uncovered six “suspicious transactions” last year, one involving the Vatican Bank.

Two of those cases were forwarded to Vatican prosecutors for further investigation, and the other four may still warrant more formal probes, the Financial Information Agency said in its first annual report.

In the previous year only one suspicious transaction was reported, which FIA director Rene Brulhart said proves that his department and its system, which became operational in April 2011, are working well.

Brulhart said the six suspicious transactions involved sums of money greater than 10,000 Euros ($NZ15,775) but would not provide additional details.

“I’m not saying that everything is great and perfect, but that a lot of progress has been made in the last two years,” said Brulhart, a Swiss lawyer and anti-laundering expert.

“It’s important that we’re setting a system here to protect the Holy See,” he added.

He pointed to co-operation with Vatican police and Italian forces, thorough screening of financial transfers, and the signing of co-operative agreements with European countries to govern banking and financial transactions.

The FIA was established in 2010 to tighten controls on Vatican financial transactions, in response to complaints that the Vatican — and especially the Vatican Bank — could be vulnerable to exploitation by money-laundering operations.

Brulhart said the FIA would soon put into place new procedures to screen account holders at the Vatican Bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion or IOR.

As he presented the FIA report, Brulhart reminded journalists that the IOR is not an ordinary bank.

“The IOR is not a commercial bank, and the Vatican is not a tax haven,” he said. “The Holy See is a reliable partner in the international fight against money laundering.”


Catholic News Agency


Vatican Radio

Image: Catholic News Agency

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