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Holy See’s bank troubles? Or are audits working?

Vatican bank reforms lead to rise in reports of suspicious transactions

Vatican body attributes rise to keener vigilance prompted by reforms at scandal-ridden Institute for Works of Religion

Holy See's bank troubles? Or are audits working?

Image courtesy of [Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Source: The Guardian

The number of reports of suspicious financial transactions at the Vatican leapt to 202 in 2013 from six the previous year, its Financial Information Authority (AIF) said on Monday, attributing the rise to keener vigilance prompted by reforms at the scandal-ridden Vatican bank.

Since 2010, the Vatican has been enacting legislation to bring its bank, the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), in line with international standards on financial transparency.

The AIF said the bulk of the suspicious transaction reports it had received involved the bank, but declined to give specific numbers or percentages. Five were considered serious enough to be referred to the Vatican’s prosecutor.

“We are not perfect yet, we are not super-good yet,” Rene Bruelhart, the Swiss lawyer who heads the AIF, told a news conference. “We are more than satisfied that the direction we are going is good, but there is still quite a bit of way to go.”

A report last December by Moneyval, a monitoring committee of the Council of Europe, said the Vatican had enacted significant reforms but still had to exercise more oversight over its bank.

Bruelhart said his department had carried out an on-site inspection of the IOR this year to make sure that procedures to combat money laundering had taken root.

Pope Francis, who has said Vatican finances must be transparent in order for the church to have credibility, decided against closing the IOR on condition that reforms continued.

Bruelhart said the bank had made “substantial progress” in investigating client relationships and closing the accounts of clients who were not entitled to them.

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