CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 18 May 2019

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Vatican financial laws and roles will be strengthened

vATICAN CITY (CNS): Rene Brulhart, the director of the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority said the Vatican will further amend its finance-related laws in the coming months, increase screening of account holders at the Institute for the Works of Religion, known as the Vatican bank, and continue assessing the potential risk that accounts could be used for money laundering and the financing of terrorism. 

The Swiss finance lawyer hired to monitor the legality and transparency of Vatican financial activity, presented his office’s first report at a May 22 news conference. 

He told reporters that the Vatican has “a very clear, strong commitment to fight money laundering and terrorism financing fully in line with its moral values, but also with its responsibility to become a credible partner in the international environment.” 

He said that in 2012, he received six reports of suspicious financial activities from Vatican offices and, after studying the cases, he forwarded two of them to the Vatican criminal court for further investigation and possible prosecution. Brulhart added that it is up to the Vatican prosecutor to release information about the cases, which could involve money laundering. 

The fact that five suspicious activity reports were submitted in 2011, six in 2012 and more than that in the first quarter of 2013 prove that the Vatican bank and other Vatican offices are committed to greater transparency and stringency and are learning to implement the stricter laws governing financial transactions enacted by the Vatican since 2010, he said. 

“Filing a suspicious transaction report is not a bad thing,” Brulhart explained, saying that it alerts him and his investigators to he fact that a transaction has “deviated from the ordinary behaviour” of a particular Vatican bank account holder or a person or company with whom a Vatican office does business. 

The Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority works in a similar way to financial intelligence agencies in other countries and has signed cooperation agreements with several. 

In addition to investigating the reports of suspicious activities and cooperating with international finance-crime intelligence agencies, the Vatican office collects and analyses the obligatory reports filed when more than E10,000 (about $100,000) in cash is brought into or taken out of the Vatican. It also educates Vatican offices on spotting potential abuses and conducts on-site inspections, including of the Vatican bank. 

 

However, Brulhart said the Vatican’s situation differs in many ways from most countries since “there’s no financial sector, no commercial banks, no insurance companies” and no stock exchange.....

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