Vatican financial watchdog board sacked by Pope Francis

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Vatican financial watchdog board sacked by Pope Francis

Vatican financial watchdog board sacked by Pope Francis
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There has been a further house-cleaning at the Vatican’s financial watchdog.

The five members of the board running the Financial Information Authority (AIF) have been sacked.

It is the latest attempt by Pope Francis to move on from the scandals that have overshadowed the Holy See’s finances.

The five Italians – who are laymen associated with the Vatican’s discredited financial old guard – are being replaced by four experts from Switzerland, Singapore, the United States and Italy.

The new watchdogs

The new board of the AIF includes Marc Odendall, who administers and advises philanthropic organisations in Switzerland, and Juan C. Zarate, a Harvard law professor and senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think-tank based in Washington DC.

The other two board members are Joseph Yuvaraj Pillay, former managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore and senior advisor to that country’s president, and Maria Bianca Farina, the head of two Italian insurance companies.

They will work with Rene Bruelhart, a Swiss anti-money laundering expert, who now heads the Authority, and who has been behind reforms to bring the Vatican in line with international standards on financial transparency.

Alleged money laundering

Only Vatican employees, religious institutions, orders of priests and nuns and Catholic charities are allowed to have accounts at the bank bank, which is known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR). But investigators have found that a number were being used by outsiders or that legitimate account holders were handling money for third parties.

Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a former senior Vatican accountant who had close ties to the IOR, is currently on trial accused of plotting to smuggle millions of dollars into Italy from Switzerland in a scheme to help rich friends avoid taxes.

Scarano has also been indicted on separate charges of laundering millions of euros through the IOR. Paolo Cipriani and Massimo Tulli, the IOR’s director and deputy director, who resigned last July after Scarano’s arrest, have been ordered to stand trial on charges of violating anti-money laundering norms.