After an unholy series of scandals, including money laundering allegations, the Vatican bank’s new administrators have blocked over 2,000 clients’ accounts and ended around 3,000 “customer relationships”.
Last year’s profits were all but wiped out by winding up some dubious investments and paying outside professionals to help with compliance and transparency issues and account closures.
All but about 400 of the 3,000 terminated accounts were “dormant” with small balances and had been inactive for years.
A further 359 customer relationships are due to be terminated after staff and outside experts found they did not meet the criteria for holding accounts at the bank, which has about 15,500 customers, some with more than one account.
The cost of all this mean profits in 2013 plummeted to 2.9 million euros from 86.6 million euros in 2012.
Overseeing it all is Australian Cardinal George Pell, head of the newly created Secretariat of the Economy. He is responsible for a major down-sizing, hiving off the bank’s investment activities and limiting its activities to payment services and financial advice for religious orders, charities and Vatican employees.
Pope Francis has taken a keen interest in the revamping of the Vatican bank . He had considered closing it, but has now decided to keep it operative, though with a programme of continuing reforms.
Francis also appointed a Council for the Economy, a 15-member group of prelates and lay people from around the world that will set economic policy for the Holy See and for the Secretariat for the Economy.