Skip to content

How does the Vatican fight money laundering?

By Andrea Gagliarducci (CNA)
12/12/2017 (3 months ago)
Catholic Online (

The Council of Europe's Moneyval committee has praised the Holy See's financial intelligence unit, the Financial Information Authority, in a report published last week.

The Vatican has several measures in place to prevent money laundering.

The Vatican has several measures in place to prevent money laundering.


Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - The report noted the progress the Holy See has made in establishing an effective reporting system for suspect transactions, and in its international cooperation with investigation and reporting of financial irregularities. The report recommended that the financial authority "actively pursue" pending criminal cases of money laundering.

Moneyval is the Council of Europe's "Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism." It evaluates how financial systems in European states work to counter money laundering and stop the flow of funds to organizations connected to terrorism.

The progress report is part of the Moneyval's regular evaluation procedure, which it conducts for all members.

The Holy See applied to Moneyval in 2011, after issuing its first anti-money laundering legislation. Moneyval issued a general "mutual evaluation report" on the Holy See and Vatican City State in July 2012. That evaluation called for improvements to the Holy See's financial oversight procedures, which the Vatican has since pursued.

After the first general report, each state is called to report on its progress the year after the general evaluation, and to submit subsequent progress reports every two years.
The Holy See submitted a progress report in 2013, 2015 and now in 2017. The next report will be submitted in 2019, and it is expected that there will be an on site visit by Moneyval inspectors in the course of 2018.

The reports' data confirm that Vatican is now in the third phase of implementing effective protections against money laundering.

The first phase, "the assumption of responsibility," led to a Monetary Convention between the Holy See and European Union in 2009, and Benedict XVI's motu proprio that established the first Vatican anti-money laundering laws at the end of 2010.
The second phase was "debugging financial transparency reforms." The Vatican's anti-money laundering law was amended and substantially re-written, and this led to a generally positive evaluation by Moneyval. In 2013, the Vatican financial system was furtherly improved with the issuance of additional laws and policies.

The third and current phase is that of improving the effectiveness of the system.

The progress report highlights a sort of "two speed" situation for Vatican financial reforms. While the overall system is working, the court system still needs to be developed, as reports on suspected money laundering did not lead to prosecutions.

Both Monyeval and Holy See Press Office releases acknowledge that the Holy See's Financial Intelligence Authority (AIF) has carried out a significant work in the past two years.
According to Moneyval, the Holy See "has established a functioning reporting system."

"In the past two years," a Dec. 8 Moneyval release said, "the Holy See has established a functioning reporting system. Both the AIF and the judicial authorities have sought and were responding to international cooperation requests in their work."

The AIF has established 24 new Memoranda of Understanding with foreign financial intelligence units and 4 new Memorandum of Understanding with supervisory authorities.

The Holy See recieved 380 requests for cooperation from foreign authorities in 2015, a number that increased to 837 in 2016, probably due to the Institute for Religious Works remediation process that led to the closure of about 4,800 IOR accounts. In 2017, the number of international cooperation requests decreased to a total of 104.

Beyond the data on international cooperation, the report also provides data about money laundering investigations.  

Since Jan. 2013, the report says, "69 disseminations to the Promoter have been made by AIF where money laundering was suspected". The Promoter for Justice -- the Vatican prosecutor --opened 27 criminal distinct investigations out of the 69 AIF disseminations.

Of those investigations, 8 investigations "have been closed formally without any charges", while 6 investigations concluded without an indictment and their formal closure has been requested. There are currently 8 criminal investigation open as money laundering investigations.

These facts also bring to light the main problem highlighted by the Moneyval report.

The Moneyval report noted that "the Holy See had still not brought a money laundering case to court".

The committee stressed that "while considerable amounts of assets continued to be frozen, no criminal case had yet produced a confiscation order."  For this reason.  "Moneyval recommends the Holy See ensure that the money laundering aspects of all outstanding investigations in criminal cases by proactively pursued".

"In this regard, the committee noted that the overall effectiveness of the Holy See's engagement with combating money laundering depends on the results that will be achieved by the prosecution and the courts," the release concluded.
However, there have been steps forward on the side of the Holy See's judicial system that show how the Vatican is working to meet the requirements of its new money-laundering laws.
A Holy See Press Office release delivered Dec. 8 underscored that Moneyval welcomed "the creation of a specialized Economic Financial Crimes Investigation Unit within the Corps of the Gendarmerie and the appointment of a specialized Assistant Promoter of Justice." 
These two steps are crucial in making of the Vatican City State judicial system more prompt in prosecuting suspect money laundering cases.
It must be clear that the report is not about particular cases, and does not review any internal problem. Without naming them, the report describes five cases of Vatican trials that involved financial issues -- some of them more recognizable, and some of them not.
But Moneyval is called to assess if the financial system to counter money laundering and financing of terrorism works, and not to judge on singular cases. The report is not in any way related to situations like, for instance, the recent firing of Giulio Mattietti, adjunct director to the IOR, which led to much speculation on the state of Vatican finances reforms.

It was a positive sign that the Vatican's progress report was approved within Moneyval's regular process. Otherwise, the Vatican would have had to submit a new report in a future plenary session.

The committee's approval shows that the Holy See's commitment, despite needed improvements, is welcome and appreciated by its European neighbors.

Moneyval's progress report said that, despite some things that need to be fixed, the Holy See's commitment to financial transparency, started under Benedict XVI, meets international standards, despite the unique reality of the Vatican City State and Holy See's mission.

For the Vatican, finances are just a tool to carry out the mission of evangelization, and not an end in themselves.

Perfect Catholic Gifts-Catholic Online Shopping


'Help Give every Student and Teacher FREE resources for a world-class Moral Catholic Education'

Copyright 2018 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for FEBRUARY 2018
Say 'No' to Corruption.
That those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption.


More Europe

Learn St. Patrick's Prayer against Paganism

Image of

This prayer of St. Patrick called "St. Patrick's Breast-Plate" was composed as he prepared for his most important battles against the ... continue reading

One hundred thousand rally to stop the advance of abortion in Ireland Watch

Image of

Some 100,000 Irish pro-life advocates took to the streets across the country on Saturday to oppose legalizing abortion in the Republic of ... continue reading

British judge condemns 21-month-old Alfie Evans Watch

Image of Alfie Evans with his parents who have fought unsuccessfully to save his life. A judge has condemned Alfie to die by removal of life support against his parent's wishes.

A British court ruled Tuesday that physicians can stop providing life support, against his parents' wishes, to Alfie Evans, a 21-month old ... continue reading

Here's the real-life Catholic village that inspired C.S. Lewis' 'Narnia'; Watch

Image of Narni is the real-life village that inspired C.S. Lewis' mythical Narnia.

The magical realm of Narnia is the setting of C. S. Lewis' beloved children's book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. There, four ... continue reading

How does the Vatican fight money laundering? Watch

Image of The Vatican has several measures in place to prevent money laundering.

The Council of Europe's Moneyval committee has praised the Holy See's financial intelligence unit, the Financial Information Authority, in ... continue reading

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.