From: Andrew Johnson
Date: 2010-09-23 10:04:50
Attachments : From: PennySent: 23 September 2010 09:22To: Editor UK ColumnSubject: Vatican bank under investigation over money laundering I spied this article in the Telagraph yesterday – www.telegraph.co.uk/… Vatican bank under investigation over money laundering Italian authorities froze nearly £20 million belonging to the Vatican’s bank in an unprecedented investigation into alleged money laundering by the Holy See. Nick Squires in Rome Published: 11:38PM BST 21 Sep 2010 Investigators have spent more than a year scrutinising millions of euros’ worth of Vatican bank transactions to see if they violate money laundering regulations Photo: ALAMY It was the first time that such action had been taken against the bank, which is formally known as the IOR or Institute for Religious Works. Prosecutors placed the bank’s director general and its chairman – an exponent of the need for morality in financing – under investigation for two allegedly suspicious transactions which may have breached Italy’s anti-money laundering laws. Investigators have spent more than a year scrutinising millions of euros’ worth of Vatican bank transactions to see if they violate money laundering regulations. The probe culminated in yesterday’s raid, in which police froze €23 million (£19 million) of Vatican bank funds held by a small private bank, Credito Artigiano. The bulk of the money, €20 million euros, was destined for JP Morgan in Frankfurt, with the rest going to an Italian bank, Banca del Fucino. The Vatican bank’s chairman, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, who was appointed last year, was placed under investigation for allegedly failing to communicate to financial authorities where the money had come from. He is not being investigated for laundering money but for omitting to disclose key information. The Vatican said it was “perplexed” by the investigation, which is being conducted by Italy’s tax police. “The Holy See is perplexed and surprised by the initiatives of the Rome prosecutors, considering the data necessary is already available at the Bank of Italy, and similar transactions commonly take place with other Italian banks,” it said in a statement. The Vatican expressed “the utmost confidence” in the bank’s senior executives, including Mr Gotti Tedeschi. A member of the conservative religious movement Opus Dei, he has spoken out on the need for more morality in financing, echoing appeals made by Pope Benedict XVI in various encyclicals. Mr Gotti Tedeschi serves on the board of several large Italian banks, has taught financial ethics at a Catholic university in Milan and is a close adviser to Italy’s finance minister, Giulio Tremonti. The IOR manages the Vatican’s finances as well as the accounts of Catholic organisations and religious orders. Its cash point machines in the Vatican City State carry the distinction of allowing account holders to conduct transactions in Latin. It was famously implicated in a scandal in 1982 over the collapse of what was then Italy’s largest private bank, Banco Ambrosiano. The head of Banco Ambrosiano, Roberto Calvi, was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982, amid suspicions that his murder may have been ordered by the mafia, which was believed to have lost money in the bank. It has never been established whether he was killed or committed suicide. Calvi’s close links with the Vatican earned him the nickname “God’s Banker”. The disgraced head of the bank, American Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, was also accused of having links with organised crime groups. He died in Arizona four years ago.