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Vatican takes another step in promoting financial transparency

By on Thursday, 10 October 2013

Fr Federico Lombardi (PA)

Fr Federico Lombardi (PA)

With the adoption of a detailed new law on financial transparency, vigilance and information, the Vatican has almost completely revamped its finance laws in less than three years, the Vatican spokesman said.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi released a statement on Wednesday about the 58-page text of a new Vatican City State law incorporating, but also broadly expanding retired Pope Benedict XVI’s December 2010 document establishing the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority to monitor Vatican financial operations and make sure they meet international norms against money-laundering and the financing of terrorism.

The text of the new law, approved by the commission governing Vatican City State, said the revamping was necessary because financial crimes “threaten the integrity and stability” of economic activity, “not to mention the reputation” of those who work in the financial sector.

In addition, it said, the Vatican, like other states, is “called to contribute to preventing and combating illicit activity, particularly money laundering and the financing of terrorism, by adopting adequate systems of vigilance and financial information, as well as by collaborating on an international level, including through the control of its borders.”

Father Lombardi said one of the key characteristics of the new law is that it formally expands the competence of the Financial Intelligence Authority by including the task of “preventive” or “prudential” vigilance, which involves ensuring the proper organisation and trustworthiness of all Vatican financial operations.

Many elements of the new law, he said, respond directly to suggestions made in July 2012 by “Moneyval” – the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism.

Father Lombardi said Vatican experts still are working on one of the final recommendations, which is to identify fully and dictate rules for the supervision of the financial dealings of the many foundations and nonprofit organisations based within Vatican City State.

Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s foreign minister, wrote in an article distributed by the Vatican press office that the law marks a major step toward bringing the Vatican fully in line with the standards encouraged by the Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental body working globally to prevent money laundering, terrorism financing and other financial crimes.

The steps taken since December 2010, the archbishop said, show the Vatican has reached “a particularly advanced stage” in promoting financial transparency, vigilance and information-sharing so that within the international community it could “play a role of guide and example.”