VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis revised the statutes of the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority a month after the Vatican adopted detailed new laws to promote financial transparency, vigilance and information.
With an apostolic letter released by the Vatican Nov. 18, Pope Francis clarified the roles of the authority’s president, board of directors and director, and specified that it would have two separate offices: one concerned with supervision and regulation, the other with financial intelligence.
In early October, the Vatican’s new finance laws formally expanded the competence of the Financial Intelligence Authority by including the task of “preventive” or “prudential” vigilance, which involves ensuring the proper organization and trustworthiness of all Vatican financial operations.
When Pope Benedict XVI established the Financial Intelligence Authority in late 2010, its role was focused on monitoring Vatican financial operations to ensure they met international norms against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
The authority’s new supervision and regulation department will not only investigate suspect transactions but will also have a role in establishing procedures to reduce the possibility of questionable financial dealings.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters there were “no revolutionary changes” in Pope Francis’ document, but that it was necessary to make the authority’s statutes match its tasks as dictated by the laws adopted in October.
In one minor change, the new statutes require the office to issue two annual reports. The first, already required, is a summary of the year’s activities prepared only for the Vatican Secretariat of State. Now the office also is to prepare a public report “containing non-confidential data, information and statistics” on its activity.
The Vatican also published an announcement that it had hired a team from Ernst & Young to carry out a “verification and consultation on the economic and administrative activities” of the office that runs Vatican City State. The 2012 “VatiLeaks” scandal included allegations of corruption in the office, including in the awarding of contracts. The office manages the business and financial affairs of the 108-acre state.
Similar audits of the Vatican bank and the Vatican’s investment office are underway by the Promontory Financial Group.
The Vatican statement Nov. 18 said Ernst & Young was chosen in consultation with the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See. One of the commission members, Francesca Chaouqui, works in public relations and communications for Ernst & Young in Italy.