VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In an effort to strengthen its ability to fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism, the Vatican signed an agreement with the United States to share information regarding suspect financial transactions.

The Vatican’s Financial Information Authority signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” in Washington D.C. May 7 with the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury that investigates potential illegalities within the U.S. financial system and cooperates with similar agencies in other countries.

The Vatican’s agreement with the United States was meant to “strengthen its efforts to fight money laundering and terrorism financing globally,” the Vatican said in a written statement May 7.

The memorandum is also meant to “foster bilateral cooperation in the exchange of financial information,” the statement said.

The Vatican said its finance agency has signed similar agreements with counterpart agencies in Belgium, Spain and Slovenia, and that it was in discussions with more than 20 other countries to establish similar agreements.

The agreement was signed by Rene Brulhart, the Swiss lawyer and finance crime expert the Vatican appointed last year to lead Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority, and Jennifer Shasky Calvery, director of FinCEN.

In the Vatican statement, Brulhart said the agreement with the U.S. treasury was “a clear indication the Holy See and the Vatican City State take international responsibilities to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism very seriously, and that we are cooperating at the highest levels.”

“The Vatican has shown that it is a credible partner internationally and has made a clear commitment in the exchange of information in this fight,” he said.

The Vatican’s finance authority was set up in 2010 to act as an oversight agency to monitor, inspect and sanction all Vatican agencies and foundations based in Vatican City State that have financial dealings or commercial transactions.

Its establishment was part of a larger Vatican effort to comply more fully with international standards against financial criminal activity.