VATICAN CITY, JULY 18, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, the under-secretary for Relations with States, today presented a briefing to journalists in the Vatican press office concerning the publication of the first Mutual Evaluation Report on the Holy See and on Vatican City State. The report was released in the beginning of July by Moneyval, a council responsible for evaluating European member States with respect to anti-money laundering systems.
The briefing dealt with adherence to the recommendations on the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism laws (AML/CFT). Monsignor. Balestrero was head of the Holy See delegation to the plenary session of Moneyval held in Strasbourg, France, on July 4.
Reiterating the Holy See’s sentiments, Monsignor Balestrero stated that technical compliance to fight money laundering and terrorism are essential and “are indeed what render moral commitments concrete.”
Vatican City, he said, has the distinction of having “no market economy.” It is not a “financial center,” where the financial assets that are put in place, “are meant to support its works of charity and of religion.”
“However the Holy See enjoys a recognized moral voice and in this sense is deeply connected not only with its immediate neighbors, but with all countries of the world,” the prelate added. According to the monsignor, this moral voice is evident when seeking awareness of the crimes of terrorist financing and money laundering.
He recalled the enforcement of the AML/CFT laws on enforcement and prevention of money laundering and financing of terrorism, adopted at Vatican City.
As a result, in November 2011, an evaluation conducted by Moneyval led to a series of critiques both positive and critical. This led to an amendment of the law “that provided for more effective cooperation among the Vatican Authorities involved in the prevention and countering of money laundering and the financing of terrorism”.
The prelate went on to discuss several enhancements to the law, among them, strengthening the powers of the Vatican Courts to combat the crime of money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as predicate offenses, and concerning the seizure and confiscation of proceeds of unlawful activity.
Several conventions against illicit drug traffic, suppression of financing of terrorism, and organized crime were ratified by Vatican City. “These Conventions are immediately applicable in our legal system, without any further need to implement legislation regarding extradition and cooperation,” Monsignor Balestrero said.
The under secretary for Relations with States concluded that “the report released today is not an end, but a milestone in our continuing efforts.”
“We have taken a definitive step to lay the foundations to a structure – a house if you will – that is to a robust and sustainable system to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism,” he said.
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On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full briefing by Monsignor Balestrero: http://www.zenit.org/article-35218?l=english