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Vatican financial authority reports jump in investigations during 2013

Catholic World News - May 19, 2014

The Vatican’s Financial Information Authority (AIF) has reported a sharp increase in the number of suspicious financial transactions noted in 2013—but attributed the increase to tighter regulation.

The 2013 annual report of the AIF showed that 202 financial transactions had been reported for investigation during the year, as against only 6 in 2012 and just 1 in 2011. After further investigation, 5 cases were handed over to Vatican prosecutors for possible action.

René Bruelhart, the director of the AIF, said that the sharp increase in investigations reflects the new power accorded to the financial-oversight agency, the stricter regulations imposed by the Vatican on financial transfers, and the much greater degree of cooperation with other jurisdictions. Last year the AIF submitted 28 requests for information from foreign authorities, and received 53 such requests; a year earlier, those figures had been 1 and 3 respectively.

The Vatican’s system for supervision of financial transfers is now “well in line with international standards,” Bruelhart said. While acknowledging that improvements can still be made, he said that “today we have a proper and equivalent system in place to prevent and fight financial crime.”

Bruelhart also reported that the FIA recently completed its first on-site inspection of the Vatican bank, the Institute for Religious Works, and found “substantial progress” in the institution’s drive to eliminate opportunities for money-laundering. He said that the AIF has developed an action plan to continue tightening controls at the bank.

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