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Italian court refuses to lift freeze on Vatican bank funds

Catholic World News - October 20, 2010

An Italian court has denied a plea from the Vatican bank to release the €23 million ($31.7 million) that were frozen in connection with a money-laundering investigation.

The Vatican bank, formally known as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), is under investigation for possible violations of new European standards governing money transfers. The standards have been established to prevent money-laundering. Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, the chairman of the IOR, has said that the transfers that are now under scrutiny involved the bank’s own funds, and simple clerical errors resulted in the failure to provide adequate documentation for the transfers.

The Vatican bank had made an unprecedented appeal to an Italian court to release the funds, saying that any misunderstandings about the source of the money can easily be resolved. But the Riesame tribunal rejected that appeal.

The Vatican press office released a short formal statement expressing “amazement” at the ruling. A lawyer representing the IOR said that the bank would appeal the court’s decision.

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