Holy See financial report raises dirty money suspicions

Pope Francis with the Director of IOR, Gian Franco Mammi

 VATICAN CITY-- The latest report on the Vatican bank, otherwise known as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), has flagged up a myriad potential money laundering scandals, but an overall decrease in suspcious financial activity. 

 “An increase in the complexity of potential money laundering schemes” was registered, “with the resulting necessity of deeper and more widespread analyses on cooperation with foreign counterparts.” Four transactions for more than two million euros were suspended, and a preventative block was imposed on one for 1.5 million euros. In addition to the 22 reports on potential cases of money laundering, there were 800 international transactions with foreign counterparts.

 The overall level of suspicious financial activity has decreased, with 207 cases being registered in the 2016 report, compared with 544 in 2015.

 These are the principle points from the annual report presented on Tuesday by the Vatican’s Authority of Financial Information (AIF), responsible for preventing and tackling instances of money laundering and financing of terrorism.

 According to the Director of AIF, Tommaso di Ruzza, the results are “encouraging” and further prove the “reinforcement” and “consolidation” of the monitoring system “for the prevention and tackling of illegal activities in the financial and monetary field.”

 The number of instances of bilateral cooperation between AIF and the unit of foreign financial information has grown “from 81 in 2013, to 113 in 2014, to 380 in 2015, and 837 in 2016.”

 “International cooperation is the preliminary step in tackling financial crimes and the Vatican is fully committed on this front,” said René Bruelhart, President of AIF. “In 2016 the financial authority registered a significant increase in bilateral cooperation with specialist authorities of other countries and will continue to be an active partner in combatting illicit financial activities on a global level,” she added.