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Vatican finance inspector received 123 suspicious activity reports in 2023

June 19, 2024

The Vatican’s Supervisory and Financial Information Authority (ASIF), which is charged with the task of combating combat money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as conducting financial intelligence, received 123 reports of suspicious activities in 2023, according to its new annual report (Vatican News summary).

According to its annual reports, reports of suspicious activity have varied widely over the years but have risen steadily since 2019.

At times, ASIF has quietly revised the number of suspicious activity reports in a given year in subsequent annual reports—raising questions about the reliability of the data upon initial publication.

For example, in 2018, there were 56 reports of suspicious activity (according to the 2018 annual report), later revised to 54 reports (in the 2019 annual report), and still later revised to 83 reports (in subsequent annual reports).

  • 2011: 1
  • 2012: 6
  • 2013: 202
  • 2014: 147
  • 2015: 544
  • 2016: 207 (later revised to 208)
  • 2017: 150
  • 2018: 56 (later revised to 54, then to 83)
  • 2019: 64 (later revised to 95)
  • 2020: 89
  • 2021: 104
  • 2022: 128
  • 2023: 123

According to the 2023 annual report, 118 of the 123 suspicious activity reports came from the IOR (the Institute for the Works of Religion, or Vatican Bank). ASIF noted that 11 reports were submitted to the Office of the Promoter of Justice (Vatican City prosecutor) during 2023—down from 19 the previous year.

ASIF also reported that it suspended only one IOR account in 2023, worth €5,848 ($6,286)—down from five accounts suspended in 2022, for a total of €829,050 ($891,100).

In 2023, nine nations and territories (Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Curaçao, Lebanon, Mauritius, Nepal, Senegal, and Zambia) signed memoranda of understanding with ASIF, bringing the total number of countries with such memoranda to 76.

“According to authoritative observers, 2023 has actually marked itself as the year with the highest number of conflicts since World War II,” wrote ASIF’s president, Carmelo Barbagallo. “It serves as an incentive to continue the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing at global level.”

Founded by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 as the Financial Information Authority (FIA, or AIF), the agency was renamed and given new statutes in 2020. It has been led by Barbagallo since 2019; its previous president, René Brülhart, was charged by Vatican prosecutors with abuse of office. In December, Brülhart was found guilty and fined €1,750 ($1,881).

 


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