Thursday 5 December 2019

Bank bans credit cards at Vatican in money-laundering row

Frances D'Emilio Rome

It's "cash only" now for tourists at the Vatican wanting to pay for museum tickets, souvenirs and other services after Italy's central bank decided to block electronic payments, including credit cards, at the tiny city-state.

Deutsche Bank Italia announced yesterday that the Bank of Italy had pulled its authorisation.

The Italian central bank took the action because the Holy See has not yet fully complied with EU safeguards against money laundering. That means Italian banks are not authorised to operate within the Vatican, which is in the process of improving its mechanisms to combat laundering.

The Vatican says it is attempting to solve the problem.

The Holy See had no immediate comment on the Bank of Italy's reported reasons.

The central bank also would not comment on the situation.

Tourists in the long queues yesterday that snaked around Vatican City walls into the museums entrance were not happy about the inconvenience.

"It's certainly a disadvantage," said Giuseppe Amoruso, an Italian.

"A lot of tourists don't have cash on them, so they have to get euros and don't know where to get them," said Fluger William Hunter, an American tourist.

The Vatican has been striving to upgrade its measures to detect and discourage money laundering, hiring a Swiss expert on the subject a few months ago.

Last summer, the Holy See passed a key European financial transparency test but received failing grades for its financial watchdog agency and its bank, formally called the Institute for Religious Works.

Determined to crack down on money laundering, especially from Italian-based organised crime groups, Italy has tightened its own rules over recent years.

Irish Independent

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