Cleaning up Vatican finances reaps EU reward

Cleaning up Vatican finances and making them more transparent is paying big dividends.

Before the financial clean up – which Pope Benedict XVI launched in 2009 and Pope Francis has continued – the Vatican Bank had been an embarrassment to the Church.

The aim of the clean-up was to fight money laundering and terrorist financing and to bring Vatican finances into compliance with international norms.

Thousands of accounts have been closed as a result.

Last week the Board of the European Payments Council extended “the geographical scope of the Single Euro Payments Area [SEPA] to Vatican City State and the Holy See.”

This allows the Vatican bank to have its own IBAN code — the unique numerical identifier that facilitates wire transfers between banks.

The Vatican says “SEPA harmonises the way electronic euro payments are made across Europe. It allows European consumers, businesses and public administrations to make and receive credit transfers as well as direct debits under the same basic conditions and makes all cross-border payments in euro as easy as domestic payments.”

Early beneficiaries of the new arrangements include the Institute for the Works of Religion (known as the Vatican Bank) and the administration that manages Vatican real estate.

Other beneficiaries include the religious orders, Vatican embassies, employees and diplomats who are Vatican Bank clients and have weathered years of scandal and reform. They can look forward to faster and cheaper transactions.




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