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Vatican says bank transfers easily explained

September 23, 2010

Questions about money transfers by the Vatican bank “could have been clarified with great simplicity,” the Vatican argues in a new statement on an Italian investigation of the Institute for Religious Works (IOR).

In a letter to the Financial Times, Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, notes that the transfers which prompted a money-laundering investigation were actually “cash transactions the beneficiary of which is the Institute itself, on accounts it holds at other credit institutions.” A “misunderstanding” between the two institutions caused a failure to document the transfers properly, he explained.

Father Lombardi pointed out that the IOR, as a Vatican institution, is not under the supervision of any national bank. Its unique position, he said, means that the IOR requires a series of agreements with other banks in order to abide by the stiff new rules laid down by the European Union to prevent money-laundering. The Vatican spokesman said that IOR president Gotti Tedeschi “has been working with great commitment to ensure the absolute transparency of the IOR's activities, and their compliance for the norms and procedures” established by European bank regulations. In light of the Vatican bank’s efforts to comply with regulations, Father Lombardi suggested, it is surprising that Italian officials would undertake a formal investigation of transactions that could readily be explained. "Thus the Holy See reiterates its complete confidence in the managers of the IOR, and its desire for complete transparency in the financial operations the Institute undertakes,” Father Lombardi wrote.


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