Wednesday 26 April 2017

Over €1bn in missing cash found in Vatican accounts

Cardinal Pell did not suggest any wrongdoing but said the departments had long had
Cardinal Pell did not suggest any wrongdoing but said the departments had long had "an almost free hand" with their finances. Photo: Getty Images

Philip Pullella in Vatican City

Vatican departments had more than a billion euros that were not declared on an overall balance sheet before new accounting standards kicked in last year, a new probe shows.

The man appointed to clean up Vatican finances said last December that departments had "tucked away" millions of euro and followed "long-established patterns" in jealously managing their affairs without reporting to any central accounting office.

A financial statement published yesterday showed that such funds totalled about €1.1bn, the first time the Vatican has quantified the unreported funds discovered after Cardinal George Pell took up the new post of economy minister.

Pope Francis picked Cardinal Pell, an outsider from the English-speaking world, to oversee the Vatican's often muddled finances after decades of control by Italians.

Cardinal Pell did not suggest any wrongdoing but said the departments had long had "an almost free hand" with their finances. The Vatican said at the time that he was not referring to any "illegal, illicit or badly administered funds".

The financial statement for 2014, issued after a meeting of the Vatican's Council for the Economy, also showed that the Holy See, including most of its departments in Rome and embassies around the world, ran a budget deficit of €25.6m, in line with the previous year.

Vatican City State, which has a separate budget, ran a surplus of €63.5m, almost twice the previous year's, due to strong revenue from the Vatican Museums, which draw about six million paying visitors a year, and other cultural activities.

Since the pope's election in March, 2013, the Vatican has enacted major reforms to adhere to international financial standards and prevent money laundering and has closed many suspicious accounts at its scandal-rocked bank, the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR).

Last year, the Vatican mandated that each department's finances be reviewed by an international auditing firm.

Irish Independent

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