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Vatican 'bank' isn't really a bank

February 20, 2012

The “Vatican bank” isn’t really a bank, John Allen observes.

Formally known as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), the Vatican bank offers accounts only to certain restricted customers—mostly religious entities—and makes no loans at all. Its position in the world of finance is unique, and consequently the rules that apply to banks do not always fit neatly into the IOR’s way of operation.

For practical purposes, most banks treat the IOR like a bank. And the Vatican complies with banking regulations, because it makes life simpler for everyone involved. But the distinction is worth preserving: the “Vatican bank” is not an outlaw financial institution, but an institution that does fit the banking mold.


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