Vatican Spokesman on Bank Investigation

«Holy See Reiterates Its Desire for Complete Transparency in the Financial Operations»

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 23, 2010 ( Here is a statement from Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, regarding the investigation into the Institute for the Works of Religion.

The statement was published by the Financial Times.

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Sir, The Institute of Religious Works (IOR) has returned to international media attention in the wake of a surprise investigation by the Procurator’s Office in Rome (“Vatican backs bankers in laundering probe”, September 22).

Given that the activities of the IOR take place at an international level, and that its president is well-known in the world of international finance, it is appropriate that I should seek to avoid the spread of inaccurate information and to ensure that no damage is caused to the institute or the good name of its managers.

The IOR is not a bank in the normal definition of the term. It is an institute that administers the assets of Catholic institutions, who aim to further a religious and charitable apostolate at an international level. The IOR is located within the territory of Vatican City State, beyond the jurisdiction and surveillance of various national banks.

Its particular status means that its position in the system and the regulations of international finance require a series of agreements to establish the procedures necessary for the Holy See to be included in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s “white list” – this is especially true in light of the new norms laid down by the European Union to combat terrorism and money laundering.

From the day of his appointment as president, and in accordance with the mandate he received from the highest Vatican authorities and from the IOR inspection committee, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi has been working with great commitment to ensure the absolute transparency of the IOR’s activities, and its compliance for the norms and procedures which will allow the Holy See to be included in the white list. To this end, intense and fruitful contacts are ongoing with the Bank of Italy, the EU and with the competent international bodies: the OECD and Gafi (or Financial Action Task Force).

It is for this reason that the Vatican Secretariat of State expressed its perplexity and amazement at this investigation by the Procurator’s Office in Rome, which has come at a time in which this commitment is being clearly shown and these contacts are being made in order to reach lasting solutions as soon as possible.

The nature and aims of the transactions under investigation could have been clarified with great simplicity, being cash transactions the beneficiary of which is the institute itself, on accounts it holds at other credit institutions. The current problem was caused by a misunderstanding (now being examined) between the IOR and the bank which received the transfer order.

Thus the Holy See reiterates its complete confidence in the managers of the IOR, and its desire for complete transparency in the financial operations the institute undertakes, in accordance with the procedures and norms required today to ensure the security and transparency of transactions in the field of international finance.

Father Federico Lombardi,

Director, Press Office of the Holy See, Vatican City

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