Catholic World News

Cardinal-designate from Mali charged with hiding funds in Swiss bank accounts

June 01, 2017

An investigative report in the French daily Le Monde charges that Catholic bishops in Mali—including one recently named by Pope Francis to become a cardinal—have placed €12 million ($13.5 million) in Swiss bank accounts.

According to Le Monde, Archbishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako—who is scheduled to receive his red hat from Pope Francis later this month—was instrumental in setting up several accounts in Swiss banks beginning in 2002. At the time, the cardinal-designate was handling financial affairs for the episcopal conference of Mali. By 2007 the accounts held about €12 million, the investigators found.

Le Monde reports that the accounts were established quietly, in private meetings between Swiss bankers and Chuch leaders, including Archbishop Zerbo. The substantial sums involved—especially in light of the small size and poverty of the Church in Mali—and secrecy of the accounts raise questions about both the sources and the purposes for the Swiss accounts. Le Monde confirmed that at least one of the accounts, in a bank in Geneva, remains active.

The bishops’ conference of Mali rejected suggestions of any financial wrongdoing, saying: “The bishops’ conference of Mali operates in total transparency.” Abbot Noel Somboro, who now handles financial affairs for the bishops’ conference, said that he was unaware of any Swiss bank accounts.

 
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