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Probe into former Vatican Bank chief shelved

Ettore Gotti Tedeschi resigned from IOR in 2012

28 March, 12:26
Probe into former Vatican Bank chief shelved (ANSA) - Rome, March 28 - A Rome judge on Friday upheld a request from prosecutors to shelve an investigation into the former head of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, over alleged money laundering. In 2010 the probe led in to the freezing of 23 million euros over two cash transfers involving the bank that were deemed suspicious.

Gotti Tedeschi resigned from the bank, whose official name is the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), in May 2012 following a no-confidence vote by the supervisory board, amid reported disagreements on efforts to get the Vatican on the white list of financially transparent countries.

The image of the bank has been hit by a series of scandals over the years.

Italian banks effectively stopped dealing with the IOR in 2010 after the Bank of Italy ordered them to enforce strict anti-money laundering criteria to continue working with it.

From January 1 to February 12 last year the Bank of Italy froze all credit-card and ATM transactions inside the Vatican City over its failure to fully implement international anti-money-laundering standards.

The Vatican has made several reforms to introduce greater financial transparency and fight money laundering since Pope Francis was elected to the helm of the Catholic Church last year.

In December the Council of Europe's Moneyval agency, a monitoring group of financial experts, praised the Vatican's progress, as it seeks to get on the list of countries with strong credentials on combatting financial crime.

But it also stressed that more work needed to be done.

In January the Vatican bank said it was ready to resume normal relations with Italy after making progress in measures to prevent money laundering and other financial crimes.

"The IOR looks forward to a resumption of full interaction with Italian financial institutions pending review by Italian regulatory authorities of the Holy See/Vatican City State's anti -money laundering provisions," read a IOR press release on a status report on the reform process by its Board of Superintendence.

"The IOR has implemented further reforms to enhance its overall risk management function and to allow for a high level of transparency for the overall process".

In June Francis nominated a pontifical commission to make proposals on the future of the bank.