Italian investigators have said the Vatican Bank operated in a way that facilitated money laundering, according to a leaked inquiry. The disclosed report followed a three-year inquiry into the bank, officially known as the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), and was recently quoted by two Italian newspapers, Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica. According to the report, IOR did not carry out enough checks on its clients and the bank allowed account holders to transfer large sums on behalf of others.
“There is a high risk that the way the IOR operates, without specifying its real clients, can be used as a screen to hide illegal operations,” the report read.Prosecutors behind the inquiry also faulted Italian banks that accepted transfers from the IOR for not investigating the origin of the money, which could later be moved into other banks. “The IOR can easily become a channel for the laundering of money with a criminal origin,” said the prosecutors. The report also denied IOR statement that its account holders are all religious congregations or clergy. “There are also private individuals who, because they enjoy a particular relationship with the Holy See, can deposit money and open accounts,” the report read. The inquiry focused on a 23-million-euro ($30-million) transfer made from IOR to Italian lender Credito Artigiano in 2010. The transfer was signed off by at that time IOR Director General Paolo Cipriani and his deputy Massimo Tulli. The two resigned on July 1 from their posts and prosecutors are set to file charges against them for their involvement in the money transfer. An additional official working at the Vatican Bank, senior priest Nunzio Scarano was arrested earlier by Italian police on June 28 on suspicion of money laundering, fraud and corruption. CAH/HSN