Vatican bank turns a €23m corner

The return of €23m to the Vatican Bank marks a turning point in being accepted again by Italy’s banks.

After blocking the funds in a 2010 money laundering investigation, an Italian bank returned the money last week.

The Vatican Bank, whose official name is “Institute for Works of Religion” (IOR), said in a statement, the return of the money was “a consequence of the introduction of a fully-fledged anti-money laundering and supervisory system”.

As part of the 2010 global effort to halt illicit financing, the Bank of Italy ordered Italian banks to improve their anti-money laundering efforts.

In response Italian financial institutions curtailed, in part, their dealings with the IOR, waiting for it to improve standards and the Public Prosecutor of Rome made a preventive seizure of €23m transferred by the Vatican Bank from an account it held in the Italian bank Credito Artigiano, (now Credito Valtellinese).

Since then, the Vatican has worked to make its bank compliant with international financing norms.

Meanwhile the funds remained frozen in Italy for almost four years.

Moneyval, the Committee of experts on the evaluation of anti-money laundering measure and the financing of terrorism, acknowledged, December 2013, the Vatican Bank had introduced a solid system of prevention and countering of money laundering.

In January of this year, the IOR said in its financial statement that its reforms merited “a resumption of full interaction with Italian financial institutions”.

Despite the return of funds, the prosecution against the IOR’s management remains open.


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