Newspaper article International New York Times

Vatican Draws Praise for Its Reform Efforts ; but Committee of Experts Finds It Could Do More to Curb Money Laundering

Newspaper article International New York Times

Vatican Draws Praise for Its Reform Efforts ; but Committee of Experts Finds It Could Do More to Curb Money Laundering

Article excerpt

"A very wide range of legislative and other measures have been taken in a short time by the Holy See," to remedy numerous deficiencies, a report found.

The Vatican has made "significant efforts" to implement financial overhauls complying with international transparency and anti-money- laundering standards, but the Holy See's internal watchdog agency needs to step up its controls of the Vatican's financial institutions, according to a report issued Thursday.

The report by Moneyval, a committee of financial experts that evaluates measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, concluded that "a very wide range of legislative and other measures have been taken in a short time by the Holy See," to remedy numerous deficiencies highlighted in a first Moneyval report issued in July 2012. The report was backed by the Council of Europe, an international organization that monitors human rights and the rule of law.

But the committee said these measures, though "much improved," still needed to be "tested in practice."

Pointing out that no formal inspections had yet been carried out by the Institute for the Works of Religion, as the Vatican Bank is formally known, or the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, which manages the Vatican's real estate holdings and financial portfolios, Moneyval called on the Holy See's Financial Intelligence Authority to execute the inspections as soon as possible to test customer files for potential money laundering.

It also called on the Vatican to increase the resources available to the Financial Intelligence Authority, which was recently entrusted with prudential supervision of the institutions, by hiring "experienced professionals" to allow it to carry out more effective and thorough controls "in the light of current and projected workloads."

Under Pope Benedict XVI and his successor, Pope Francis, the Vatican has tried to open up the Vatican Bank and its affiliated financial organizations, traditionally secretive institutions that have periodically surfaced in the public domain when financial scandals have come to light. …

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