Francis's clean-up of Vatican bank gathers pace
Investigators in Rome are combing through the 19,000 accounts held by the Vatican's bank in search of money laundering and other crimes, in a long-delayed attempt to clean up the institution's tarnished reputation.
The campaign to bring more transparency and accountability to the bank, started under Benedict XVI, has dramatically picked up momentum under his successor Pope Francis since his election in March.
The review is being orchestrated by a German banker, along with forensic accounting experts from Promontory Financial Group, who are analysing around 1,500 accounts a month, hunting for any suspicious financial activities.
"Our work is to make the bank transparent," said Ernst von Freyberg, its new president.
"We (must) become compliant with international financial laws, including on money laundering. The Pope strongly endorses a Vatican bank that serves the church and no one else."
The multi-national team of specialists is drawing up an anti-money laundering rule book for the bank's 112 employees, hauling its financial regulations into the 21st Century and making sure relations with other banks are above board.
Yesterday, it was claimed that Italian prosecutors are looking at suggestions that one of Italy's wealthiest dynasties, the Agnelli family, used the Vatican bank to transfer funds to Switzerland. (© Daily Telegraph, London)