Cleaning up finances, Vatican to appoint new banker in chief
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/8/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Following a criminal investigation, resignations and a 2012 report that accused the Vatican of not doing enough to prevent money laundering, Pope Francis will appoint a new banker in chief. It's all part of new attempts by the Vatican to shine the light on all financial transactions.
The Vatican bank has begun screening all its customers to make sure they complied with new transparency rules.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Institute for the Works of Religion, as the Vatican bank is formally known, claimed that its profits were virtually wiped out last year as new management combed through accounts.
Both Emeritus Benedict and his successor Pope Francis have since tried to clean house.
Swiss financial crime fighter Rene Brulhart was appointed in 2012 to bring Vatican regulation in line with international standards. In addition, German lawyer Ernst von Freyberg was hired on as president of the Vatican bank early last year.
The Vatican bank began screening all its customers to make sure they complied with new transparency rules. The bank has since terminated nearly 3,000 customer relationships as the accounts were small and mostly dormant.
About 400 were ended because the bank is narrowing its focus to serve only Catholic institutions, clerics, Vatican employees, embassies and diplomats to the Holy See. Another 359 customers who will also be dropped.
The Vatican bank also took a hefty charge to write down a number of investments made by the previous management. It also spent heavily hiring external consultants to advice on the clean-up operation.
The Institute for the Works of Religion said net profit last year slumped to 2.9 million euros ($4 million) from 86.6 million in 2012.
"It is fair to say that over the past months this often painful but very necessary process has opened the door to a new, unburdened future of the [bank] -- as a financial service provider that is fully and solely dedicated to serving the mission of the Catholic Church," von Freyberg says.
The new management team is expected to be announced shortly.
"After all their hard work, we are now in a position to move the [bank] to a second phase of reform under new leadership," George Pell, the former Archbishop of Sydney said. Appointed by Pope Francis earlier this year, Pell oversees financial and administrative affairs across the city state and Catholic Church.
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