Report: Vatican to adopt anti-fraud banking reforms
Dec 29, 2010, 10:42 GMT
Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI is set to introduce reforms to the Vatican's banking system to bring it in line with international measures aimed at curbing money laundering and fraud, reports said Wednesday.
The pontiff will issue a document on Thursday for the creation of a centralised banking system that will govern the Vatican's financial affairs, the Holy See's newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said.
The initiative stems from agreements between the Vatican and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
It will allow the OSCE to monitor money transactions involving the Vatican's bank, the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), according to Italian newspaper reports.
The IOR is currently involved in a legal tussle with Italian authorities over the confiscation of some 23 million euros (30.3 million dollars) deposited from one of its accounts into that of an of an Italian bank.
The deposit allegedly contravenes anti-money laundering provisions introduced by Italy in 2007 that require banks to notify authorities of transactions involving non-European Union financial institutions such as the IOR.
Two top managers of the IOR are also being investigated in connection with the money.
The Vatican has said the seizing of the money was probably the result of a 'misunderstanding' and that the IOR would easily be able to clear up the matter with Italian authorities. It has also defended the conduct of its managers.
The IOR handles accounts of religious orders and other Catholic associations using the offshore status of the Holy See.
In 1982 the IOR was embroiled in the collapse of an Italian bank, Banco Ambrosiano, of which it was the major shareholder.
The IOR's then head, Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, was under consideration for indictment in 1982 in Italy as an accessory to the bankruptcy, but was protected by his diplomatic immunity as a Vatican prelate.
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