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Vatican Bank Regulator Agrees to Share Information with FinCEN
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On Tuesday, the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority signed a partnership with the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a unit of the U.S. Treasure that tracks suspicious money transfers.

In its official announcement, the Vatican said that the new Memorandum of Understanding was meant to “foster bi-lateral cooperation in the exchange of financial information” between the Vatican and the United States.

The Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority had been formed in 2010 following three decades of scandal rocking the Vatican Bank.

  
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In 1982, Roberto Calvi, an Italian, also dubbed “God’s Banker” due to his close ties with the Vatican, was found hanged under London’s Blackfriar Bridge. There was a huge controversy over his death and his death was ruled a murder after two coroner’s inquests.

Calvi was the chairman of Italy’s second largest private bank, Banco Ambrosiano, which went bankrupt in 1982. The Vatican Bank was the largest shareholder of Banco Ambrosiano.

The day before Calvi was found dead, his longtime private secretary apparently jumped to her death from a fifth floor window of Banco Ambrosiano.

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Unsubstantiated claims made in public and in courts have periodically pointed fingers at the Vatican Bank, the Mafia, and the Masonic Lodge for Calvi’s death.

The Holy See also lost an estimated $30 million in 1974 when the Franklin National Bank owned by Michele Sindona collapsed. Sindona later died in prison after being given coffee generously laced with cyanide.



The formation of the Financial Intelligence Authority by the Vatican is in response to continuing scandals and the fact that the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), popularly known as the Vatican Bank, is being investigated by Italian magistrates for money laundering.

The Vatican Bank is known to mostly manage money for dioceses and religious institutions. It has assets estimated between six to seven billion Euros.

The Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority started work in April 2011 to increase transparency in financial transactions and collect and exchange information of transactions that were suspect.

The Vatican also announced that its FIA would share information with the U.S. FinCEN on matters that could relate to financing of terrorism or money laundering. The chief of the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority, Rene Bruelhart, traveled to Washington to sign the new agreement with FinCEN.



 

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