Vatican bank is target of money-laundering probe
September 21, 2010
Italian police have impounded €23 million ($30 million) in assets of the Vatican bank, and are investigating the bank’s chairman on money-laundering charges. The Vatican is “perplexed and surprised” by the investigation, according to a statement released by the Secretariat of State.
The probe of the Institute for Religious Works (the formal title of the Vatican bank) involves transfers to an account in another bank, the Credito Artigiano. Authorities suspect that the transfers violated the terms of new laws designed to curb money-laundering. Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, the chairman of the Institute for Religious Works, is also under investigation.
The reputation of the Vatican bank was badly damaged by its involvement in financial scandals that led to the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano and the suspicious death of a prominent Italian banker, Roberto Calvi, in 1982. The Institute for Religious Works escaped legal charges but acknowledged “moral involvement” in the scandal, and paid $240 million to affected creditors.
Under the leadership of Etore Gotti Tedeschi, who was appointed as chairman in 2009, the Vatican bank has promised to conduct its business according to the highest standards of ethics and accountability. Vatican officials insisted that the bank had complied with all reporting requirements for the fund transfers that are being scrutinized.