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US lists Vatican as vulnerable to money-laundering operations

Catholic World News - March 08, 2012

The US government has announced concern that the Vatican could be exploited by money-laundering operations.

The State Department listed the Vatican among countries whose banking systems might be manipulated by money-launderers. The Vatican is now listed for the first time as a “jurisdiction of concern” for that reason.

The designation by the State Department is not a particularly harsh criticism of the Vatican. There are 67 other countries in the “jurisdiction of concern” category, including Ireland, Portugal, South Korea, and Belgium. A higher classification, listing “jurisdictions of primary concern,” lists some of the world’s major economic powers, including Russia, China, Great Britain, Japan, and the US itself.

The State Department’s decision to express concern about the Vatican nevertheless is a setback for Church officials who have implemented a series of financial reforms aimed at restoring international confidence in the Vatican banking system. The reforms, including the establishment of a Financial Information Authority within the Vatican to supervise all economic transactions, were put in place last year. American officials indicated that it is too early to judge whether those reforms have been successful in closing the loopholes that money-launderers might exploit.

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