Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Vatican Bank Under Investigation for Money Laundering

# Official: Vatican bank investigation centred on 'mistake'
Irish Examiner - 14 hours ago
# Vatican Bank Under Investigation for Money Laundering
The AtlanticWire - 1 day ago
# Vatican bank investigated for money laundering
Foreign Policy (blog) - 1 day ago

By John Hudson | September 21, 2010 3:06pm

Move over sex scandals. The Vatican's got a money laundering probe on its hands. Italian authorities have frozen $30 million at the Vatican Bank following two large money transfers that the Vatican didn't provide "enough information about." The alleged wrongdoings are still pretty hazy but here's what we know so far.
The Vatican Is Backing Its Man, writes MSNBC: "In a statement, the Vatican said it had been working for some time to make its finances more transparent to comply with anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering regulations. It expresses full trust in the head of the bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, and the director-general."
The Bank Has Had Issues Before This, writes JJ Sutherland at NPR: "The bank was involved in a major scandal back in 1982 when it got involved in the fraudulent bankruptcy of Banco Ambrosiano. The president of that bank, Roberto Calvi, was found hanged under a bridge in London."
It's Held to Pretty Strict Rules, writes CNN's wire staff: "The Vatican Bank is subject to particularly stringent anti-money laundering regulations because Italian law does not consider it to be operating within the European Union."
The Vatican Didn't See This Coming, reports Reuters:

The Vatican confirmed the Rome magistrates’ action in a statement that expressed “perplexity and amazement” at the move and “utmost faith” in the two men who head the bank, officially known as Institute for Religious Works (IOR). It said the bank had committed no wrongdoing because it was transferring its own money between its own accounts. The IOR primarily manages funds for the Vatican and religious institutions around the world, such as charity organisations and religious orders of priests and nuns.
Maybe the Vatican Doesn't Deserve to Keep Its Sovereignty, suggests Joshua Keating at Foreign Policy: "The current investigation could add more fuel to the current debate over Vatican sovereignty, which was prompted by the pope's recent visit to Britain. Anti-pope campaigners like the British LGBT activist Peter Tatchell argue that the Holy See's officially recognized sovereignty and observer status at the United Nations give it unwarranted authority in international debates over subjects like birth control, abortion and homosexuality while protecting priests and Vatican officials from prosecution."

* Money-Laundering Probe CNN Wire Staff, CNN
* Under Investigation JJ Sutherland, NPR
* Seizes $30M Nicole Winfield, AP
* Bank Investigated Joshua Keating, Foreign Policy

Vatican claims transparency amid laundering probe; SNAP responds

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915 home,

Again, a Vatican official is accused of not being “transparent” and again, his fellow Vatican officials immediately rally behind him. (According to the AP, the Vatican says it has “full trust” in the chair of the Vatican bank which is under investigation by police.)

It’s sad to see Catholic officials immediately and publicly defending a colleague early in a police probe, long before the evidence has been fully gathered and analyzed. Vatican staff see to take this same reflexive, self-serving stance in nearly every criminal probe its employees face, whether financial or sexual. It serves to intimidate others with information into staying silent.

We encourage the Pope’s top advisors to withhold comment and judgment in such cases. If they must speak, we urge them to urge others who can shed light on serious allegations of wrongdoing to come forward and help police and prosecutors resolve the suspicions.

Vatican bank probe revives Catholic Church's past financial scandals

The Christian Science Monitor

By Nick Squires, Correspondent / September 22, 2010

The head of the Vatican’s bank said he had been “humiliated” by the announcement of an investigation into alleged money laundering as the Roman Catholic Church received another blow to its battered reputation.

The investigation demonstrates a more muscular attitude toward the Vatican's finances on the part of the Bank of Italy, which has instituted new regulations on banking transparency, experts say.

Italian authorities froze 23 million euros ($30 million) belonging to the bank, officially known as the Institute for Religious Works, and placed its president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, and chief executive, Paolo Cipriani, under investigation for alleged breaches of money laundering laws.

The unprecedented move could hardly come at a worse time for the Vatican. For months, it has been the target of scathing criticism for failing to deal with clerical sex abuse cases around the world.

Black As Sin: Vatican Bank Accused Of Money-Laundering


Yesterday, in a surprising turn of events, Italian authorities announced that they are investigating the Vatican Bank, as well as the head of the Vatican Bank, for money laundering. Police, tipped off by the Bank of Italy, have frozen 23 million euros ($30.21 million) of the Vatican funds, and placed Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, who has been at the helm of the bank for a year, as well as a number of other executives, under investigation. Ettore Gotti Tedeschi is reported to be a member of Opus Dei. Rome magistrates Nello Rossi and Stefano Fava are currently leading the case. Reports out of Italy indicate that the Bank of Italy identified two suspicious Vatican Bank transactions that did not appear to comply with the country's anti-money laundering requirements. Interestingly, when the Bank of Italy informed legal authorities of the transactions, judicial authorities informed the Bank that an investigation into purported money laundering by the Papal body was already underway.

Vatican bank again in the eye of the storm after probe


By Catherine Jouault (AFP)

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican's bank found itself fending off fresh accusations of wrongdoing Wednesday after Italian prosecutors opened a probe against senior executives for violating money laundering norms.

The investigation, launched against the bank's president and another manager, risks casting another shadow on the Vatican after the priest paedophilia scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church around the world.

And it is a fresh blow to the bank itself, whose reputation was badly hit by the 1980s Banco Ambrosiano scandal.

Pope's banker faces inquiry over 'money laundering'

The Independent (United Kingdom)

By Michael Day in Milan

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The Vatican, still picking up the pieces after the global paedophilia scandal, was yesterday rocked by news that the heads of its bank are under investigation in connection with a £20m money laundering probe.

Vatican Bank president Ettore Gotti Tedeschi and director-general Paolo Cipriani are being investigated following two transactions that were reported as "suspicious", police sources said.

The transactions on 15 September are thought to involve €20m sent to the German bank JP Morgan in Frankfurt, and €3m sent to a central-Italian bank, the Banca del Fucino. The funds have been seized by Italian authorities.


Rupert Cornwell: The Vatican's appeal as an offshore haven is still evident

The Independent (United Kingdom)

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

"Vatican Bank under investigation." Those four words instantly summon up one of the 20th century's most lurid financial mysteries – the death of Roberto Calvi, the $1.4bn collapse of his Banco Ambrosiano, and its entanglement with the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR) – then, as now, the bank of the Holy See.

Calvi was found dead on 18 June 1982, his body hanging from scaffolding under Blackfriars Bridge in central London, his suit pockets stuffed with stones, as well as £7,400 worth of cash, in dollars and Swiss francs. His death was first ruled a suicide, then a murder, but the case has never been solved.

Those bizarre circumstances were newsworthy enough. Even more newsworthy were the links that emerged with the Vatican. Ambrosiano had hidden its colossal debts with a network of shell companies run out of an Ambrosiano subsidiary in Lima, Peru. All of them, as letters of patronage issued by the IOR admitted, were "directly or indirectly controlled" by the Vatican bank.

Vatican bank in the spotlight over money laundering claim

The Irish Times


THE UGLY ghosts of Roberto Calvi, Archbishop Marcinkus, P2 and the Banco Ambrosiano hovered uneasily in the Roman air yesterday as it was revealed that the Vatican bank, IOR (Istituto per le Opere di Religione) is currently under investigation for possible violations of Italian money laundering regulations.

Ever since it emerged that Archbishop Marcinkus had, wittingly or unwittingly, involved the Vatican Bank in the affairs of Roberto Calvi’s Banco Ambrosiano, a bank that collapsed spectacularly in 1982 with debts of $1.3 billion (€98 million), the very name IOR prompts controversy.

The Holy See yesterday found that IOR is once again in the eye of the storm with both Banca d’Italia and state investigators expressing reservations about two Vatican bank transactions which do not appear to have complied with anti-money laundering requirements.
Vatican bank officials under investigation in laundering case

Los Angeles Times

By Henry Chu and Maria De Cristofaro, Los Angeles Times

September 21, 2010

Reporting from London and Rome — In another blow to the Holy See, Italian authorities have begun investigating the top two officials at the Vatican bank on suspicion of violating money-laundering rules and have frozen $30 million in the bank's assets, news reports said Tuesday.

The Vatican, already battered by a scandal over priestly sexual abuse, expressed "puzzlement and amazement" at the allegations and said it was committed to financial transparency. ...

The bank, a private entity, is suspected of failing to identify the source of $30 million that it was transferring to a branch of American financial giant J.P. Morgan in Frankfurt, Germany, and to the Italian institution Banca del Fucino, according to Italy's ANSA news agency.


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