Italian police seize $30M from Vatican in probe

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Italian-police-seize-30M-from-apf-281006629.html?x=0

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Italian authorities seized euro23 million ($30 million) from a Vatican bank account Tuesday and said they have begun investigating top officials of the Vatican bank in connection with a money-laundering probe.

The Vatican said it was “perplexed and surprised” by the investigation.

Italian financial police seized the money as a precaution and prosecutors placed the Vatican bank’s chairman and director general under investigation for alleged mistakes linked to violations of Italy’s anti-laundering laws, news reports said.

The investigation is not the first trouble for the bank — formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion. In the 1980s, it was involved in a major scandal that resulted in a banker, dubbed “God’s Banker” because of his close ties to the Vatican, being found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London.

The Vatican expressed full trust in the chairman of the bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, and his director-general, identified by the Vatican directory as Paolo Cipriani. It said the bank had been working for some time to make its finances more transparent to comply with anti-terrorism and anti-money-laundering regulations.

“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,” it said in a statement.

Gotti Tedeschi told state-run RAI television that he was “humiliated and mortified” by news of the probe, which he said had arrived just as he was implementing new transparency procedures at the bank.

News reports circulated more than a year ago that Italian investigators were scrutinizing millions of euros worth of Vatican bank transactions to see if they violated money-laundering regulations….

Black As Sin: Vatican Bank Accused Of Money-Laundering

http://www.justmeans.com/Black-As-Sin-Vatican-Bank-Accused-Of-Money-Laundering/31884.html

Yesterday, in a surprising turn of events, Italian authorities announced that they are investigating the Vatican Bank, as well as the head of the Vatican Bank, for money laundering. Police, tipped off by the Bank of Italy, have frozen 23 million euros ($30.21 million) of the Vatican funds, and placed Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, who has been at the helm of the bank for a year, as well as a number of other executives, under investigation.

Ettore Gotti Tedeschi is reported to be a member of Opus Dei. Rome magistrates Nello Rossi and Stefano Fava are currently leading the case. Reports out of Italy indicate that the Bank of Italy identified two suspicious Vatican Bank transactions that did not appear to comply with the country’s anti-money laundering requirements. Interestingly, when the Bank of Italy informed legal authorities of the  transactions, judicial authorities informed the Bank that an investigation into purported money laundering by the Papal body was already underway.

Immediately following the allegations disclosure, the Vatican responded, saying that it was “perplexed and baffled by the prosecutors actions. In their words, the Vatican as a whole aims for “complete transparency” in its financial operations.

While none of the allegations have been proven, the charges bring up a number of interesting questions. Should the financial arms of non-public religious organizations such as the Vatican be regulated the same, or differently, than other public and private business entities?

How should these regulations be operationalised, particularly when the operations of the Vatican & the Catholic Church (as well as many other major religious organizations), are not publicly disclosed (and the institution itself has no obligation to share its financial data)?

If the allegations are true, how does one go about punishing the leadership of a a religious institution when its leaders and business arms have essentially been granted diplomatic immunity? And finally, why are we so shocked by these allegations?

Is it impossible to believe that a religious institution could be guilty of similar charges?….

Vatican Bank accused of money laundering 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EnGD6DT2gM


Vatican Bank charged with Money-laundering Jan. 27, 2010 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xzkAQc9hXs&feature=related

Italian police seize $30M from Vatican in probe

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jZE68q9X88dHYq8WimifrCvtjYXgD9ICDHA80

VATICAN CITY — Italian authorities seized euro23 million ($30.18 million) from a Vatican bank account Tuesday and said they have begun investigating top officials of the Vatican bank in connection with a money laundering probe.

The Vatican said it was “perplexed and surprised” by the investigation.

Italian financial police seized the money as a precaution and prosecutors placed the Vatican bank’s director general and its chairman under investigation for alleged mistakes linked to violations of Italy’s anti-laundering laws, news reports said.

The is probe not the first time the bank — formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion — has faced trouble. In the 1980s, it was involved in a major scandal that resulted in a banker, dubbed “God’s Banker” because of his close ties to the Vatican, being found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London.

The Vatican expressed full trust in the chairman of the bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, and his director-general, and said it had been working for some time to make its finances more transparent to comply with anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering regulations.

“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,” it said in a statement.

News reports circulated more than a year ago that Italian investigators were scrutinizing millions of euros worth of Vatican bank transactions to see if they violated money laundering regulations.

In Tuesday’s case, police seized the money from a Vatican bank account at the Rome branch of Credito Artigiano Spa, according to news agencies ANSA and Apcom. The bulk of the money, euro20 million ($26.2 million), was destined for JP Morgan in Frankfurt, with the remainder going to Banca del Fucino.

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