The Annual Report of the Financial Information Authority (AIF) of the Holy See-Vatican City for the year 2016 was presented on Tuesday in the Holy See Press Office by its President Rene Brulhart, and its Director Tommaso Di Ruzza.
The directors pointed out that “in the prudential and prevention ambit” the work of surveillance is proceeding well against recycling and the financing of illicit activities, “thanks to the growth of international cooperation between the competent authorities of the Vatican and their foreign counterparts,” which at present is carried out with 32 countries.
“In 2016, AIF registered a significant increase in bilateral cooperation with the competent authorities of other jurisdictions and it will continue to be an active member to combat illicit financial activities at the global level.”
In addition, because the system of signals of suspicious activities, which in 2016 were 207, greater than the previous years (except in 2015 when a forced control was carried out), which indicates a growing and effective performance of the indicating procedures on the part of the entities surveilled,” pointed out Tommaso di Ruzza, AIF’s Director.
In addition to “an improvement in the signals in terms of quality,” made possible was AIF’s reports to the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice so that “criminal proceedings could begin,” in addition to “international cooperation with the financial investigation units abroad, which had an important development. Thus the increase in investigations went from 81 in 2013 to 837 in 2016. FIA’s Director added: “in 2016, 22 reports were sent to the Vatican’s judicial authorities for further study.”
He specified that AIF can suspend for five days the operations that it regards as suspicious and if it finds something irregular, the case is frozen until the Promoter of Justice carries out his investigation.
Another point made was that specific instructions were given to Holy See entities, to avoid operations of variable figures when amounts in lesser amounts than 10,000 euros.
The Financial Information Authority was instituted by Pope Benedict XVI with an Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio of December 30, 2010. It was updated with the Statute promulgated by Pope Francis in the Apostolic Letter of November 15, 2013 and law 28 of October 8, 2013.
In 2016, AIF signed protocols of understanding with the Surveillance Authorities of seven other countries, thus reaching agreements with a total of 32 nations.
Here is the English text of the official communiqué of the Financial Information Authority (AIF):
AIF press release | Annual Report 2016 | Fostering international cooperation and further strengthening of the regulatory framework
The Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria (AIF) of the Holy See and the Vatican City State has presented its Annual Report for 2016. The report reviews the activities and statistics of AIF for the year 2016.
A significant fostering of international cooperation of the Vatican competent authority with its foreign counterparts to fight illicit financial activities, a consolidation of the reporting system as well as a further strengthening of the regulatory framework have been some of the key achievements in 2016.
“International cooperation is a precondition to fight financial crimes and the Vatican is fully committed to it.” said René Brülhart, President of AIF. “In 2016, AIF has seen a significant increase of bilateral cooperation with competent authorities of other jurisdictions and will continue to be an active partner to combat illicit financial activities globally.”
“The number of suspicious activity reports (SARs) by different reporting subjects decreased in comparison to 2015 (207 in 2016, 544 in 2015). But the number of SARs was still higher than in previous years, indicating an ever-increasing and effective implementation of reporting requirements by supervised entities.”, said Tommaso Di Ruzza, Director of AIF. “In parallel, SARs show an improvement in terms of quality with a positive impact on the reports AIF disseminated to the Vatican Promoter of Justice, which are leading to domestic prosecution, and on the international cooperation with foreign FIUs, registering a notable development”. In 2016, 22 reports have been submitted for further investigation by Vatican judicial Authorities. The number of cases of bilateral cooperation between AIF and foreign FIUs has increased from 81 in 2013, to 113 in 2014, to 380 in 2015 and 837 in 2016.
Furthermore, the transitional period to implement the requirements established by the
prudential regulatory framework expired in 2016 and the domestic system – based on Title III of Law n. XVIII dated 8th October 2013 and AIF Regulation on “Prudential supervision of entities carrying out financial activities on a professional basis” n. 1 dated 13th January 2015 –, has been further strengthened with the issuance of new Circulars on accounting standards and statistical reporting requirements.
The Financial Information Authority is the competent authority of the Holy See and Vatican City State for supervision and financial intelligence for the prevention and countering of money laundering and financing of terrorism as well as prudential supervision.
Established by Pope Benedict XVI with the Apostolic Letter in form of Motu Proprio of 30 December 2010, AIF carries out its institutional activities in accordance with its new Statute introduced by Pope Francis with Motu Proprio of 15 November 2013 and Law No. XVIII of 8
In 2016, AIF signed MOUs with supervisory Authorities and FIUs of Austria, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Panama, Poland and Russia. In previous years, AIF had already signed MOUs with Albania, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Cuba, Cyprus, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Romania, San Marino Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States of America.
AIF has been a member of the Egmont Group since 2013.