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European panel sees Vatican making progress fighting financial crime

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — A European body that investigates government efforts to combat financial crimes has confirmed the Vatican has made significant progress in reducing the risk that its institutions could be used for money laundering and financing terrorism.

“Moneyval,” the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, approved the Holy See-Vatican progress report at a meeting Dec. 9 in Strasbourg, France.

The committee plans to publish the full report on its website Dec. 12.

“The adoption of the progress report confirms the significant efforts undertaken by the Holy See and Vatican City State to strengthen its legal and institutional framework,” said Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, undersecretary for relations with states and head of the Vatican’s delegation to Moneyval.

“The Holy See is fully committed to continuing to improve further the effective implementation of all necessary measures to build a well-functioning and sustainable system aimed at preventing and fighting financial crimes,” Msgr. Camilleri said in a statement released by the Vatican press office.

The December review is a follow-up to Moneyval’s July 2012 evaluation; in a 240-page report, Moneyval acknowledged Vatican efforts to comply with international standards but expressed concerns about the Vatican’s internal inspection and supervisory powers and procedures.

Since mid-2012, the Vatican City governor’s office and Pope Francis have issued new norms, laws and procedures for dealing with financial matters and for strengthening the Vatican Financial Intelligence Authority set up by retired Pope Benedict XVI.

In its Dec. 9 statement, the Vatican said it has signed international cooperation agreements with Belgium, Spain, the United States, Italy, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Germany to facilitate the investigation of suspicious financial transactions.

Moneyval also took note of the Vatican’s “preliminary review of the customer database” of the Institute for the Works of Religion, more commonly known as the Vatican bank, where an “in-depth audit of customer records” is ongoing, the Vatican said.

Rene Brulhart, director of the Financial Intelligence Authority, told Vatican Radio that Moneyval’s adoption of the report “confirms that the Holy See is on the right track,” although “there’s always room for improvement.”