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Vatican’s Financial Information Authority issues report, cites strides toward transparency

CWN - May 22, 2013

The Vatican’s Financial Information Authority (FIA) has released its first annual report, documenting the effort to tighten controls on financial transactions and to guard against money-laundering.

During 2012 the FIA uncovered 6 suspicious financial transactions by Vatican officials or agencies. Two of those cases were forwarded to Vatican prosecutors for further investigation, and the other four may still warrant more formal probes, the FIA said.

“The statistics and trends from 2012 are encouraging and indicate that the system is consistently improving,” said Rene Brülhart, the director of the FIA. He pointed to cooperation with Vatican police and Italian forces, thorough screening of financial transfers, and the signing of cooperative agreements with European countries to govern banking and financial transactions.

The FIA was established in 2010 to tighten controls on Vatican financial transactions, in response to complaints that the Vatican—and especially the Vatican bank, the Institute for Religious Works—could be vulnerable to exploitation by money-laundering operations. Led by Brülhart, Vatican officials are working to ensure compliance with European standards for banking and financial transparency.

As he presented the FIA report, Brülhart reminded journalists that the IOR is not an ordinary bank. Of the six questionable transfers flagged by the FIA for investigation in 2012, only one involved the IOR. “The IOR is not a commercial bank, and the Vatican is not a tax haven,” said Brülhart. “The Holy See is a reliable partner in the international fight against money laundering.”

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