By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY – The Swiss finance lawyer hired to monitor the legality and transparency of Vatican financial activity said the Italian central bank’s concerns about the Vatican’s vulnerability to money laundering are not shared by other European countries or international agencies.
Citing a supposed lack of Vatican controls to prevent money laundering, the Bank of Italy denied a request by Deutsche Bank Italia to continue providing credit and debit card services in Vatican City State.
Because of the decision, the Vatican museums, supermarket and other entities have been unable to accept credit or debit card payments since January 1.
“I’m truly surprised by the measures taken by the Bank of Italy. No other country in the world has adopted similar measures,” said Rene Brulhart, the 40-year-old director of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority.
“Moneyval” – the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism – issued its evaluation of the Vatican’s financial and banking laws in July and said the Vatican met nine of its 16 “key and core” recommendations to prevent finance-related crimes.
In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, which was translated and posted on the Vatican Radio website, Brulhart said the Moneyval report judged the Vatican’s “process in adjusting to international standards satisfactory and credible. The Holy See was not subjected to any special monitoring measure, neither by Moneyval nor by any other international body”.
Yet the Bank of Italy said in a January 10 statement that “although it recognised that progress had been made, Moneyval concluded that the presence of an effective anti-money-laundering regime has still not been proven”.
The Italian central bank said it could authorise Italian banks to provide services in countries outside Italy only if the foreign country “has an adequate banking regulatory framework and system of supervisory controls”.
Brulhart said not only are there no problems with other European countries, “there’s close collaboration.”
His office, the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority, already has finalised agreements with Belgium and Spain on sharing information regarding suspect financial transactions and has begun similar negotiations with 20 other countries. – CNS